Google Earth gets revamped with massive update

In the first major update for over two years, Google Earth adds a massive number of new features as well as updating the satellite imagery for a significant portion of the globe. The experience that the new Google Earth web application offers is quite good, at least from a usability point of view.

"You use Google Maps to find your way", Rebecca Moore, director of Google Earth, said a colleague once told her. Fly through 3D cities like London, Tokyo and Rome. So on the eve of Earth Day, Google has released a new version of Google Earth for the web and Android.

I have to admit, I all but forgotten about Google Earth - until I recently saw the movie Lion - in which a five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. To add a dash of serendipity to your travels, flip through the stack of cards and discover related places.

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Other new features include Voyager, which gives you an interactive guided tour of areas complete with street images, photos, and 360-degree video. Another tour allows users to visit some of the locations the BBC visited to film Planet Earth 2.

From today, the new version of Google Earth is available on the web and for Android. Google Earth is getting a revival, with the mapping service becoming more of a tool for adventure and exploration. Google says that it has curated 20,000 different places for this feature to work. You can access these features and try it by yourself by downloading the latest Google Maps version 4.30.0 from the App Store. There's also a tour of Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, narrated by Jane Goodall.

Tuesday's update is about giving you a reason to use Google Earth again. Beyond learning more about the location you're now looking at, you can also use Knowledge Cards to find related places.

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One highlighted feature allows users to send a postcard from a virtual 3D spot, basically a link that will take friends and family to that exact viewpoint.

If you feel like learning about somewhere random, Earth has adopted "I'm Feeling Lucky" from Google's main search engine, so you can be instantly transported to a random location at the click of a button.

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