Google Earth Layer Changes – Geographic Web, Roads Layers

Just discovered that the Geographic Web layer has now been made into a single layer (instead of three sub-layers). The layer still contains the Wikipedia placemarks, the Panoramio photo layer, and the Best of Google Earth Community placemarks. But, they are now represented by smaller colored icons. Panoramio is blue, Wikipedia are kind of purple, and the GEC layer is tan. Also, when you zoom in closer, the Panoramio icons turn into little camera icons to let you know they are photos.
Also, new detailed roads are now available for Slovakia, Croatia, and Slovenia. And I believe Hungary was updated.
Related: Original announcement for Geographic Web layer – more details about the content.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. I find those color dots really annoying… but maybe I just have to get used to them.
    Note that, when you zoom in far enough, the dots are replaced by proper icons. The Wikipedia one is the same as it was, but the Panoramio icon is a generic camera, and Google Earth Community one is a note. This suggests that Google may add more sources to the Geographic Web layer.
    – Michael

  2. Dunkleosteus says

    Had to say the changes on the geographic web layer are just horrible… The icons are so tiny and inconspicuous that now it is hard to see them. There was no point combining the sub-layers either.

  3. Also, if you zoom in below 2500 ft, the icons for the Geographic Web layer grow larger.

  4. I disagree. The new representations of these layers is dead sexy and relatively unobtrusive. It is also functionally superior, as it allows for an intuitive heat map of the data for these layers and fits far more data on the screen than the previous clumsy icons.

  5. nice to see update for slovakia roads(and other countries in area)

  6. László says

    I fully agree with Dunkleosteus. I’m all for changes if they improve something, but this is just solving a problem that doesn’t exist, and effectively removing functionality (that I happened to use a lot). Now, I see all minor airports in France but Wikipedia articles are inrecognizable at that zoom level. PLEASE let the layers be split again, and at least make the icons customizable?!?

  7. Agreed. Before the update the Panoramio and Wikipedia icons were clearly distinguishable from the GE placemarks, now it is much more obscure and I never remember which color bullet represented what type of placemark.

  8. Tybois Uphold says

    Is there anyway to go back to the old version for Wikipedia “dots”? Cause I have to be honest, I ain’t digging this new “dot” look.
    Tybois Uphold

  9. I used to switch off the Community- and Wikipedia layers in order to get only the Panoramio photos…
    while changing the icons during zooming in they disappear for loading…
    not very useful for me…

  10. They have also made some changes to the icons of the traffic layer. At least in the German version I can now see an additional layer for the subway and one for usual trains. And at least in Berlin and Munich the old “U” icons for subway stations are gone and replaced with the new icons from the layer menu + there are more stations available as placemarks than before.
    Or maybe thats a worldwide change, because it’s the same in cities like Tokyo and Hong Kong.

  11. I have to agree about this change being terrible. I used to be able to pick out the high-contrast Panoramio icons quite easily, but now they are tough to spot against some backgrounds.

  12. Perhaps if there was an option to view large (normal) icons, or itsy-bitsy hard to see icons somewhere in the menu then Google Earth could please both camps, even if the people that like the small new dots is a pretty small camp.
    I personally just can’t stand the new tiny dots I find them very hard to see over certain terrain.

  13. i agree with most comments here.
    the small icons are anoying, and changing the symbol size in the options is not really a solution, since all symbols apear larger then.
    but most terrible is the changin into a single layer system… WHY HAVE THEY DONE THIS?
    it is very hard now to only look for fotos, or only search for wiki-pages…
    how can this be changed to the old system???

  14. Bundling all these layers together was a bad idea. Sometimes you want pictures, other times Wiki. Too much clutter with all the blue, orange and purple dots. Should have remained separate layers under Geo web.

  15. Patrick Aloysius Deedy says

    I used to see Google Earth version 4.2, but now I have been pushed into version 4.3. Previously I foud the blue dots very easy to spot and open up into a photo – and there were thousands of them all over the world. Now I don’t see the blue dots at all, and instead there are just a very few photo icons, which obscure the landscape features. Can I go back to version 4.2, or is there something I can do to bring back all those wonderful blue dots?

  16. Vicki Laskey says

    I am new to Google Earth and would like to know how to remove the photo icons on the close up images, as I cannot see the item for photo icons
    Can anyone help?

  17. @Vicki: Turn off layers in both the Layers and Places pane (click on the little boxes to turn them on/off) until you get the clear screen you want. If you turn off all layers, make sure you turn the “Terrain” layer back on at the bottom of the layers list. It’s what gets you the 3D terrain.

  18. I am quite new Google Earth user and would like to know how to remove the panoramio pop-up window?
    Can anyone help?

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.