Google Earth in 2010

As the year is drawing to a close, Stefan at Ogle Earth decided to take a look at three trends that he sees for Google Earth in 2010. Based on changes in the last few months, these all seem to be likely directions for Google Earth/Maps next year.
–1– Imagery Freshness
Stefan has pointed out that new imagery being added to Google Earth is more fresh than it used to be. In the past, “new” imagery was often 6-12 months old. With recent updates, some imagery is only a matter of weeks old.
In addition to that, imagery updates are being pushed out more often. It used to be monthly, and lately we’ve been seeing them twice a month. I think both of these trends are likely to continue in 2010 and beyond.
–2– Map and Imagery Correlation
In some parts of the world, such as Egypt and China, the map data and the imagery don’t often line up very well. This poses problems when people add POI data (like a restaurant) in the map layer, and it shows up 500 meters away in the imagery. As the layers are corrected and reconciled, many POIs will be very inaccurately placed.

Misplaced placemarks

This is certainly something that Google is constantly working on, and should improve even further in 2010. It also seems likely that they’ll expand their “Report a Problem” system to more countries to help improve map data even further.
–3– Cloud Power
The final area that Stefan thinks will see rapid expansion in 2010 is having more of your user-data synced to Google. As it stands right now, there is still a lot of local file management required to really use Google Earth — uploading/downloading KML files, etc.
For example, your “My Places” layer could be easily synced to Google so you can have the same set of places on all of your computers. Expanding from there, it’d be fairly easy to share places with other users from within Google Earth, rather than having to save a file, upload/email it, and then have the other user load it into their copy of the program. Not only is a that cumbersome, but it creates two distinct copies of the file that aren’t kept in sync — changes to one of them are not reflected in the other.
The recent release of Google Earth 2.0 for the iPhone effectively makes it a more connected product than Google Earth on your computer. You can have it sync directly to your My Maps data, which is something you can’t do yet on the full version of Google Earth. The iPhone version certainly has many shortcomings (no image overlays, no 3D models, etc), but this aspect of its functionality is likely a sign of what’s to come.
Those are the items that Stefan thought were worth mentioning. Some others that I think we’ll see more of in 2010:
– 3D Buildings –
New York City in 3D

Google has been pushing out 3D buildings much more rapidly as the year has progressed. Not only are they continuing to put out huge auto-generated 3D cities, but the expanding Building Maker coverage area could really be the key. I’ve built a few dozen models in Building Maker, but I’d really like to make models I care about — my house, my church, favorite restaurants, etc. As the coverage area expands, more people will find that they can build their locations in 3D, and it’ll continue to accelerate.
– StreetView –
This is another area where Google has been pushing hard lately. They’ve been adding data at a torrid pace (such as a few days ago) and that seems likely to continue. I said a few years ago that I thought StreetView might simply be a temporary solution, as 3D modeled worlds would eventually be more useful. I still think that’s true, but it’ll be quite a while until we reach that degree of realism in Google Earth.
In addition, for 3D models to be truly useful at that scale, they’ll need excellent imagery to map onto the models. They’ve already started using StreetView imagery for that and showed us how great it can be, and I’d expect we’ll see more of it.
So that’s what I think. What do you think will be the direction of Google Earth next year?

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. I think Google will release an improved version of the Google Earth flight simulator. Google Earth is faster now, and it’s obvious 3D buildings are becoming more important…
    So all Google has to do is its first online videogame. At least I hope so!

  2. Well, since so many 3D buildings have been pushed out, my main expectation for 2010 is a kind of Second-Life experience through those virtual real cities ! At least this is what I’d like to do left in GE: meeting there with friends.
    By the way, one of the last things which is missing in GE is a vegetation detailed layer, that is to say a biosphere layer. This would be instrumental for both Google and us: it would help Google adding that vegetation 3D layer in big areas, and it would give us an eye on the biosphere layer of Earth.
    What do you think about both those expectations?

  3. All things to look forward to! I’ll be buying an Android phone in the new year, and look forward to using the maps.
    PS I tried to email both Frank and Mickey at the addresses listed in the “About” page, to no avail. Are those working?

  4. Jason — We’re having some trouble with those email addresses right now. You can always reach me at Thanks.

  5. i would really like to see the click-able labels of the cities come back. they used to give population figures before. i would like it to come back with even more. (they said they were removing it temporarily, after all)

  6. I can see that Google is already working towards such technologies. If we could see things in LIVE REAL-TIME that would be awesome!

  7. I think the whole entire globe on Google Earth will be high resolution and that Google Street View will cover most of the world. There might also be real-time imagery so we can see what is going on right now. All of the planets in the solar system might be on Google Earth, too.

  8. Jamie boyko—i think thatits going to be good for them next year but they need to improve way more than what they are planning like for intance you could swoop down and look at all of the stores and the houses and buisinesses i would love to contact google eart and talk to them i just cant wait for next year for google earth they rule!!

  9. I think that Google will go for regularily updated pictures on Google Earth — like every quarter of a year. So you really can see changes when browsing through the time slider…
    Additionally I think Google also will start with eagle pictures like Microsoft is offering – but maybe of more angels that you can see more realistic pictures when changing the angle of the view.
    Third I think Google will expand the “Streetview” to “Houseview” for Museums or other interesting historical buildings (castles, churches, etc.)

  10. Leonardo Leidi says:

    I agree with this comment: Google Earth will be high resolution (mainly in Argentina and Colombia, specially Boyacá department and its main cities like Tunja, Duitama, Sogamoso, Chiquinquirá, etc) and that Google Street View will cover most of the world (specially Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay, Cuba, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela). There might also be real-time imagery so we can see what is going on right now. All of the planets in the solar system might be on Google Earth.

  11. I agree with Deathgleaner, live real-time Google Earth will be awesome.

  12. Very interesting but could you fix the spelling in the sentence
    The final area that Stefan things will see rapid expansion in 2010

  13. Alfonso E. Sierra C. says:

    Dear GEBloguers,
    As I type, today December 17, 2010, a large part of Colombia, is being flooded by the worse torrential rains in 40 years. A large number of inhabitants of the coasts and low-lying areas is being displaced by this disaster, with consequences for many years to come. In the three branches of high mountains that divide the Andes in this part of South America, There are multiple landslides that cut more than 34 very important roads, and interrupt the normal vehicular traffic. I am asking for your help in a) To get help in expediting the updating of the western coasts of the country by Google and/or other parties; the actual view is obsolete, offers very low resolution and is plagued in many important areas by multiple low lying clouds. b) Help in the building of a .kml file to detail and describe visually the advance of the flooding, and if possible of the landslides. This will help the Colombians and will keep interested parties (helpers, providers, donors) well informed.

  14. Tyesha Evans says:

    they need 2011 map for Marion SC

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