Google has announced a new version of Google Earth for Android that promises “an enhanced 3D experience, quicker updates to the map, and an easier way to view your KML files in Earth”. It has some interesting new rendering technology, and the ability more easily load KML files is an important step. I will be giving a more detailed look at the new Google Earth App for Android soon, including an analysis of the new rendering and KML support features. Here’s a screenshot Google provided of the new 3D look.
What is most significant about this announcement and release is that Google says this is the “first major 3D overhaul since Earth launched more than 10 years ago“. For the past couple of years, Google has not been making significant new updates to Google Earth. This is something we have been quite concerned about, since there hasn’t been a major update to the desktop version in almost 2 years. I wrote about these concerns in February, and Google’s Brian McClendon – who leads the Google Maps, Google Earth and other geographic products – promised they were planning to continue support for future Google Earth and KML development. This is the first step in delivering on the promise.
A significant hint at this new development effort is that the new Google Earth app now utilizes the Google Maps dataset. Always in the past, Google Maps and Google Earth used two different databases. That is why the roads and city names and other information often did not agree between the two products. The new Google Earth app definitely accesses current mapping data used in the Google Maps platform.
The new app doesn’t just have new data, it is a complete re-write to the underlying Google Earth underlying 3D model. That’s what they meant by an “overhaul“. I will explain more about this in the upcoming review, but we have discovered the entire geometric model is different. This is very significant and hints that Google is probably already working on developing a new desktop version of Google Earth that will utilize this new model and access the same unified database of mapping data! We are excited!
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.
so does that mean that areas close to the poles will look as good as the rest of GE’s globe?
Frank Taylor says
Ryan K. says
I was worried that Google was abandoning Earth in favor of Maps but this is indeed a promising development. I’ve played around with the new Android app and it is definitely a major improvement over the previous version. I can’t wait for it to come out on desktop!
Mike Shirley says
How may this effect developers working with the Google Earth API?
Our software, www rallynavigator.com uses the API and I’m unsure what to expect in the future.
Frank Taylor says
@Mike Shirley: Unfortunately this mobile release does not give us any clue of what Google’s intention is with the API. We can hope, and tell Google, they should enhance our ability to develop tools and applications with both the desktop and mobile versions of future releases of Google Earth.
Martha C. says
I get nothing but a black screen when I search GE since the upgrade. Is there any way to install the old version?
Same here! Black screen with commands on the side…
I tried downloading the android version . It’s saying Google Earth will instal soon . WTF???