The Points of Interest return!

new-place-categories.pngLast week, Google made a variety of changes to the “Points of Interest” area in Google Earth. While the changes featured a number of improvements, they also removed a variety of features. That blog entry was one of the most-commented ever on GEB, with well over 100 comments from users expressing their displeasure.
Google was quick to respond, offering apologizes and promising to fix the issues “shortly”. I’m pleased to announce that the fix is here!
Google has combined a few things to come up with the current solution. They’ve left the new “Points of Interest” button in place, but they’ve added granular POI control underneath the “More” section in a new group titled “Place Categories”, as seen to the right. This allows novice users to simply choose the smart/generic “Points of Interest” layer, while advanced users can choose precise items from the new controls. In addition, you can now once again expand the “Labels” folder to select “Populated Places”, “Islands”, etc.
The “Transportation” layers aren’t back yet, but they’re working on those. In addition, they invite you to submit your suggestions on how they can further improve these layers.

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.

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. It’s amazing how quickly Goolge is responding to criticism of its users.
    Big compliment, Hombre

  2. Good to see GEB and its readers having a real influence, and good to see GE responding to user needs.
    Once the the place categories are complete and include transportation, the contact address for direct feedback will be very welcome. Perhaps this could be extended (selectively) by GE to other issues.

  3. For some time i can’t find layer that shows lakes and rivers borders. There is in borders and names layer called coastline but it shows only coastlines of oceans and seas. Previously it shows much more data.

  4. I’m ecstatic about the return of the Parks and Recreation Areas layer! It seems to be even better and more detailed than before. Also, the Place Categories seems like an excellent solution, for at least my usage of the software. I can’t thank Google enough for this effort!!!

  5. Back and as good as ever. Thanks Google. And, one good side effect of this debacle — looking for a place to vent, I discovered this blog and have now added it to my list of sites to visit daily!

  6. It’s very reassuring to see how quickly the Google Earth team has responded to its userbase. I have nothing but compliments for the team in that regard.
    On the other hand, the one sublayer that disappeared that I had used most was the one with geographic names of mountain peaks and the like. I’d really like to see the “green triangles sublayer” restored to the layers database, but at the very least I’d like to see Google make this data available again as a standalone KMZ file that users could download.
    Until such time as this is done, the net effect of this past week’s updates will have been to make some of the world’s information less accessible and useful, at least to me.

  7. very nice to see the national parks and category layers.GE giving real value to it’s users

  8. While it’s very good to see Google responding so quickly to user feedback, I have to say I’m still disappointed, and that we’re still not back to where we were before.
    I don’t get the point of the new POI layer. If you turn it on, you’ll get everything – parks, restaurants, gas stations, etc. If you turn on the entire More layer, you’ll also get everything. So why have two separate categories, when they really do the same thing? It’s redundant, and it’s not user-friendly.
    The ironic thing is that the More layer really shows you LESS than the POI layer – you won’t see museums, post offices, stadia, etc. with it. It should be the other way around – the POI layer for the basic stuff, and then if you want to go crazy with customization, you can do it in the More layer. You don’t hear of many products where the novice version has more inherent capability than the advanced version, yet this is the situation with Google Earth now.
    I know that this was a quick fix for the major issues, and that there are (I hope) refinements to come, but it’s still nowhere near as usable as it was a week ago.
    All it really needs, though, is for the additional categories that are in the POI layer to be transferred over to the More layer. That shouldn’t be too difficult, and would address 95+% of the issues I have with the update (the others being some organizational quirks, but those are minor).

  9. I, too, am glad to see the parks and recreation layers return. One layer that got missed in our outrage was the Geographic Features layer that identified mountains and lakes. This is an extremely useful layer for those who enjoy the outdoors and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d like to see it return.
    I don’t mean to knock the work of your programmers and developers, but from a user perspective, it would be best to revert to the old layers until you have any new changes completely worked out. I would also recommend that in future changes, layers only be moved or added, but never deleted. It just takes away information and choices.

  10. I really hope they also bring the transportation layer back in the shape it was before all these changes…

  11. It still doesn’t solve the problem with the transportation layers. Railroads is in a separate category now but what about airports? I still can’t get the frikking airports up without every other goddamn thing in POI coming up as well! Surely the transport sub-layers were amongst the most useful on the whole system?

  12. Folks, this is another nail in the coffin of cloud computing.
    For stuff that you really rely on – like Metro stop mapping in Washington – keep it on your local device. We just can’t trust the cloud, for 2 reasons. 1)The cloud app developer can take away functionality (like GE just did). 2)Connectivity may go away (AT&T or T-Mobile, anyone?).

  13. The change is a good start. I also would like to see the mountains and lakes layer replaced. I mostly used GE for outdoor rec–planning trips, viewing gps tracks, etc. and the mountains and lakes layer is so helpful and fun.

  14. Bill Hamilton says

    Where are “golf courses”? Seems like the revised POI is now a jumbled mess, confusing in its application, and still missing layers that I enjoyed.

  15. Kudos to the Google Earth team for being sensitive to user complaints and acting quickly to restore treasured features. I understand the desire to streamline, but taking away functionality without a simple alternative is usually not the best approach. In any event, I salute the team for putting back the schools and parks layers along with the rest of the easy to use More layer granularity.

  16. Proves to me that the rollout of the “enhanced” calculation logic behind the Places of Interest was a mess as well in any case. Rendom example: there are several hospitals in my area. When enabling the “enhanced” PoI, only one of them actually shows an icon. No matter how much I move over any of the other hospitals, no matter how much I zoom in or out, the missing icons just don’t come up. But when I enable the re-introduced “Hospitals” under “More” now, all icons show just the way they should. Conclusion: they really should just dump the new PoI thing, admit it was a mistake, and rollback to what it was before.

  17. Bill Legler says

    I use Googol Earth for recreation planning. The geographic features layer that provided mountain and lake names is still missing in the latest correction. I agree with many users who comment that sublayers should not be deleted willy nilly in the guise of simplification.

  18. Rod Macdonald says

    Thank you for restoring many of the menu features, but I do not see rivers and lakes. “bodies of water” does not give me what I used to see. As a wildlife biologist, I want and need the best natural features, and echo the comments above about Mountain peaks, lakes and rivers.

  19. thank you so much for putting back the “islands” layer separately. now i can disable the horribly misplaces and misnamed island names in my country (Maldives).
    this has also brought to attention the need to change the island names. i was going through the island names the other day and found some islands named very unusual, like “Naraka” (local name for the Hell) and “Kakuni” (local name for Crab). i checked a Maldivian Islands data base and couldn’t find any island named such.

  20. I really hope the transportation layer, with ability to select airports only, comes back. The POI layer was just a jumbled mess for me.

  21. Ian G Morris says

    Well done Google in such a quick response, and let’s hope that further refinements will bring back the rest of the missing layers.
    My only Grinch comment is about the new greeny-blue colour of many of the icons: they can be very hard to see against our greeny-blue Earth.

  22. Moter Pent says

    I know it’s been said multiple times already but it’s not just “Transportation Layers” that are still missing. At minimum, as mentioned in several previous posts, lakes outlines, names, mountain names etc. are still absent.
    Hopefully these other layers will be making a return as well.

  23. Heikki Vesalainen says

    Still no ski lifts for Switzerland. Please give them back!

  24. nickvet419 says

    If you were looking at a place like Chicago it was nice to be able to turn on the transportation layer and see the colored subway and metra lines. Hopefully they can bring back the transportation layer and make routing in GE as usefull as google maps.

  25. There is no way for me to display airport names like before. Could you please bring that back to the Transportation layer.

  26. Airports? Yes. Airports Airports Airports!!! Please could you give us an idea of what you/re gonna do bout the transportation layer? Please? And Mountains and Lakes an’ all!!!!

  27. This whole new update is dumb. Google: I liked the old menu better, the old icons better, the old everything better. And please don’t try to streamline. When our local supermarket did that, we had to buy paper towels by the dozen, like you now have to check off layers by. And by the way, the Great Lakes don’t even show up on bodies of water!
    At least I found the railroads after Googleing it for a half-hour….

  28. Mike Sulsona says

    We want the Mountain peaks back! We hike and camp all over the US and we use them as markers. Please return the Mountain names ASAP!!!

  29. Cristóbal says

    AIRPORTS !!! I need the airports back ! My project of bookmarking the world’s aiports has stopped dead in it’s tracks. This is a major disaster, I have invested hundreds of hours in this project.

  30. Ok the Transportation Layer is back! HUzzah!!! And the Airports sublayer is back! Ooo-rah!
    Just one problem – the name of any airport does not appear unless you put the cursor on it and only then when the image is still and you’re not moving. I want to see the name as i float past on the way to somewhere else as well….Is this too much to ask? I mean – that’s the way it worked in the first place? Why can’t we have it like that?

  31. Yes, the golf courses layer is still missing. Please add it back.

  32. I am running mac os x GE version 5.1.3534.0411. I still don’t see the lakes, rivers and mountain layer yet. Any time line on when they will get it back up? Also is anybody else have a problem with the new GE images seem darker or dark green? I use to see my favorite fishing lakes clearly and bright with the older version, but now it is so dark and not as much detail. I have tried adjusting everything in the preference, but no good.

  33. C. Thompson says

    Please bring back names of lakes.

  34. Bogdan Cristescu says

    A layer with names of lakes and rivers would be great!!

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.