New Google Earth Layers Update – September 19

[UPDATED 20-Sept: More details on the preview layer]
Google has made some changes to the layers in Google Earth today. You will automatically see these in your layer list on the lower left. Here’s what I’ve found so far (I will update this if I find further information during the day).

  • Geographic Web – First up, the Geographic Web layer has been changed again – and is turned on by default so you’ll notice it. Previously they combined the 3 sub layers into one layer, but now they are separated again (which is the better way to do it I think). The Geographic Web layer is intended to help present useful information when you zoom into a place. They’ve added a new fourth sub-layer called Preview. Here is what you get:

    • Best of Google Earth Community – this layer shows some of the best placemarks put up by people in the Google Earth Community forums for places all over the world.
    • Panoramio – this layer shows photos taken by people all over the world for all kinds of places world-wide. This layer has grown to 2 million geo-tagged photos.
    • Wikipedia – this layer shows placemarks with links to Wikipedia information for all kinds of places all over the world.
    • Preview – this new sub-layer gives you a taste of information from a variety of other layers available. If you find one of these layers interesting, you can click on one of the previewed placemarks to open the description bubble and choose “Show this layer” to see the full layer. Afterwards, you can similarly choose the “Hide this layer” to go back to simple preview mode. See the Google Lat Long post about it.
  • Gigapan Photos – another new Featured Content layer showing high-resolution panoramic photos using the new Photo Overlay viewer in Google Earth 4.2. This layer represents photos from the web site.

I just got a list of the other updated layers:

  • UNEP – Under Featured Content
  • AIA Blueprint for America – Under Featured Content
  • North Amerca Ferry Lines – This layer is found under Transportation->Waterway shows the main ferry routes in North America.
  • Google Earth Community – update to show more placemarks posted by people at the GEC.

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.


  1. …Where is the 3D terrain…?

  2. Hundreds of thousands of photos have been added to the newly reinstated Panoramio sublayer in GE today.

  3. From what I can see, the Community layers haven’t been updated. Thought I can’t remember the date of the last update, nothing posted on the BBS after around 23/24 August seems to have been added. What has changed however, is that the text of placemarks in no longer cut off after a certain number of characters. I think the limit was previously 1000, now if there is a limit, it’s a lot higher, I haven’t yet come across any truncated text.

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