The Year 2010 in Google Earth

Google Earth had another fantastic year in 2010 in terms of new features along with an amazing amount of content! The amount of new content Google has added in a single year is almost too large to comprehend. We wish we had detailed statistics on just how big it is, but Google doesn’t usually release their content statistics. New imagery released during the year covered millions of square miles across all seven continents. And, not just current imagery, but in some cases multiple instances for different years going back several decades.
Also in 2010 we saw the release of Google Earth 6 and it’s many great new features, tons of new 3D buildings released covering nearly every major city in the world, Street View was greatly expanded world-wide, SketchUp got some excellent new features, and dozens of applications using the Google Earth plugin were released.
Read the full entry to see our most popular posts and tips on Google Earth from each month in 2010.

In late January, we speculated on whether or not Google would release a special version of Google Earth for the iPad. The official Google Earth iPad release came in June and users loved it!
In February, the world watched the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and Google provided a wealth of tools to help provide additional information. Our post about the Games provided links to 3D models, Street View imagery and a variety of other interactive tools.

Ski Jump

February was also the month where details were released on the horrible earthquake in Chile, and Google helped facilitate assistance by releasing imagery as quickly as possible. However, the first aerial imagery of the disaster came from Japanese astronaut Soichi Naguchi, and the photos were viewed many thousands of times by our readers.
Chile earthquake

In March, the big story was our post on the great games you can play inside of Google Earth. The number of games available to play using Google Earth technology continues to increase.
The big story in April was the volcano in Iceland that was causing flooding and delayed thousands of flights in Europe. NASA and GeoEye released imagery of the volcano, and it proved to be a very popular post.
Iceland ash cloud

Paul van Dinther from PlanetInAction has build some cool applications, but his most popular (at least on our site) is likely the “Drive the A-Team Van” game that he created to help promote the movie. It had nice controls, built-in collision detection, and allowed you to unlock special video clips from the upcoming A-Team movie.

June saw the final release of Google Earth 5.2, which offered some great new features such as tracks and elevation profiles.
July’s hottest story was the imagery update they pushed out on July 4. It was a substantial update, covering a variety of cities around the world.
August was a similar story to July, with the big imagery update on August 10 capturing the “most popular post” title for the month. It was another large update for Google Earth, with tons more cities getting some fresh imagery.
The annual Burning Man event is growing more popular each year, and a special GeoEye-captured image of the event was a very popular item in September.

Our most popular post in October was Frank’s announcement that his kite photos from Manihi were now available in Google Earth. The imagery he captures from the kite is quite amazing, and it’s neat to see that imagery end up as part of the base layer in Google Earth.

The big news in November of the release of Google Earth 6. It brought out a handful of awesome new features and continues to raise the bar for what’s possible with this program. Some of the new features included 3D trees, tighter integration with Steet View and an improved historical imagery system. Much of this was made possible by the slick new ground-level view, which allows you to browse around as if walking or driving on the ground.

Not surprisingly, the NORAD Santa tracker was by far our most popular post in December. People love it, and Google helps add more fun features to it every year.
It’s been a great year! What is your favorite Google Earth advancement in 2010?

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. Love your blog! Any thoughts of Google Earth moving fully to the cloud in 2011? I use the Earth feature in maps and it works great, especially on my 4 yr old computer.

  2. My goodness, it has been a fulfilling year indeed has it not? I can’t wait to see what the coming year holds in store for us. Volumetric clouds? More planets to explore? A layer that Photoshopps out items after a 3D version has been made? And dare I say it, more 3D buildings for my own country, New Zealand.
    In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a fan of the 3D capabilities of GEarth.
    To answer your question, my favourite update of 2010 would have to be, The high resolution imagery of BBQ Island, I so enjoyed the high resolution imagery that you had taken there. I hope to see much more of that in the future.

  3. @Lance W: Glad you liked the BBQ island story! I really enjoy showing that one to people, it really stands out since none of the other islands surrounding it are in high resolution. Here’s the link to the post:

  4. I to would love to see Google Earth move into the cloud. Being one of the fortunate ones to be able to test the Chrome OS on Google’s ChromeBook, I miss being able to drop into anywhere on earth, not to mention it’s huge part of my everyday workflow as a 3D modeler. Google SketchUp would be a welcomed addition to the cloud also.

  5. Before we get too carried away with all the technical wizardry that might happen in 2011, we should remember that there is plenty of basic work still to be done in GE. There is still crude low res imagery in places like Scotland unchanged since the launch of GE, and major cities like London with seriously aging imagery.
    The mass of new imagery in 2010 is welcome, but coverage often seems opportunistic rather than geared to a systematic improvement of GE.
    But the great thing is that GEB keeps us so well informed.

  6. I love using Google Earth to look at exotic beachs around the world… Why? Because its freaking awesome!

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.