When Google Earth first came onto the scene in 2005, “home” was most definitely where the heart was. According to the developers, the first thing nearly everyone did after downloading the platform was to immediately search for his or her home, and then to begin the journey outward into the awaiting neighborhood, city, and great beyond. In the words of product manager Gopal Shah, “Home is how we orient ourselves – it’s where we start from.”
With this truth in mind, Google created the 2017 relaunch of Google Earth, emphasizing the stories behind each twist and turn of the globe and its people. With a streamlined search feature and full extension of the 3D-view, the new application launched in late April and has been curated by the world’s leading storytellers and scientists for a magical learning experience that can take you from Pemba Island, Tanzania to Zao Hot Spring, Japan within seconds.
While it’s very easy to get lost in the natural wonders of the world that Google Earth highlights (believe us!), we strongly recommend you take a look at Voyager. Defined as a showcase of interactive tours, the feature allows you to explore, for example, Mexico City through a series of aerial map pinpoints and still-life images of top highlights. Coupled with its “Knowledge Cards” which explain the relevance of each guided location, the exploration is as close as many may ever get to a full tour of the city.
Voyager caters to the nature-lover, with BBC Earth’s journey into the world’s mountains; the scientist, with NASA’s choice scenes from space; and, of course, the architect. The platform invites you to take a guided tour of Zaha Hadid’s most unique works of architecture, as well as a collection of Frank Gehry’s monumental buildings around the world.
Once you start exploring, the interactive tour will take you around the globe, offering you 3D views of the selected buildings, plus the ability to share your findings easily with family and friends. Unlike earlier versions of Google Earth, the new relaunch lives entirely as an extension of Chrome, and necessitates no software or download.
While your inner architect can happily explore these treasures, Google has embarked to satisfy your inner art-lover as well. “Land Art from Above” by DigitalGlobe invites you to view unique, large-scale outdoor art displays from the past and present, including the 11-acre “Wish” by Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada in Ireland and “Sacred” by Andrew Rogers in Slovakia.
Be sure to check out “Eclectic Outdoor Art” as well, inviting you to discover quirky sculptures and colorful street art in the United States. The selected pieces include a troll sculpture that lives under a bridge in Seattle and the now-famous mirrored cloud sculpture in Chicago’s Millenium Park.
“Amazing Urban Gardens” couples you with Local Guides who take you from a vertical forest in Milan to a network of modern greenhouses and waterfront parks in Singapore. Securing a spot in the ranks is New York City’s The High Line, the popular park situated 30 feet above street level on the old West Side rail line.
While you’re getting lost in the new update, be sure to check out the story of Saroo Brierley, who made his long journey home by scouring train tracks in India via Google Earth, and reigns as the inspiration for the major motion film, Lion.