Google is overhauling Google Earth after two years, making one of the biggest changes in which it will no longer be a different app. The user will just need to go to the URL in Chrome and start exploring. Although at first it might seem a negligible change, opening a different app and sharing is not required any more.

Google Earth
skeeze / Pixabay

What’s new with Google Earth?

Google Earth director Rebecca Moore, stated, “This is our gift to the world,” adding that as a product, it reflects the deepest value around education. Earth has also been packed with a new feature called Voyager, allowing people to explore the planet based on stories narrated by experts and partners such as BBC Earth, Sesame Street, NASA and the Jane Goodall Institute.

Further, Earth users will be able to access “Knowledge Cards” that will allow them to access more information about countries, mountains, landmarks and various other things in a virtual format. Users will also be offered suggestions depending on what has interested them in the past.

Earth Engineering Manager Sean Askay said, “This is the first time we have done this deep integration with the Google Knowledge Graph.”

Google Earth users can also tap on the “I am feeling Lucky” feature represented by the die icon. Once the die is selected, a user will be taken to the farthest corner of the globe where Google will also show cards with local trivia. The company says it has highlighted about 20,000 locations so far with the help of the Knowledge Graph to send information to the “Knowledge Cards.”

These locations will also be refreshed from time to time, similar to what happens to the stories, notes Engadget. Further, users can plan spontaneous vacations with the help of this feature by simply tapping the paper airplane icon to see places nearby with information about them as well.

Not VR-friendly yet

Despite the big changes, the feature is still missing on some points, like it’s not VR-friendly. Although Google Earth is available on Steam, since the company has been investing aggressively, more was expected, notes Engadget. However, the possibility of such a development being in the cards cannot be negated.

Google Earth is now compatible with Facebook’s Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. However, the overhauled feature will not work with cheaper phone-based VR systems such as Google’s Daydream and Samsung’s Gear VR.

Now Google Earth is more than just limited to desktop, research tools and data, but it can be associated with original content, education and discovery. Those looking to download the app on their tablets and phone will still require a different app because of the heavy graphics.

As of now, the new app can be downloaded on Android, but the iPhone and iPad are still to get one. Still, to access some old features such as maps of Mars and the moon in partnership with NASA, a software download on the desktop is required. It only supports Chrome for now, but the search giant says it will support all four main browsers going forward.