Google Earth wish list for 2015

Here is our wish list for Google Earth this year:

  • An update to the desktop version of Google Earth. We haven’t seen an update to Google Earth for more than a year. There are a number of well known bugs in the current version and it is showing its age.

  • If the above update takes place, we expect it to use the new 3D graphics model demonstrated in the latest Android version. At the time off its release, Google hinted that we would see the new 3D graphics model used in other Google products before too long.

  • One major issue with the current version is that the street map data is not a live copy of Google Maps and hasn’t been updated for over a year. If the above 3D update takes place, then we expect it will use live Google Maps data, as the Android Google Earth does. If not, then we hope Google will at least do a refresh of the Google Earth street map database.

  • Continued expansion of the automatically generated 3D areas. We especially wish to see expansion of the 3D areas to Africa and Asia, the two continents where there is a notable absence of the new 3D.

  • The use of Street View to generate 3D at street level, complementing the 3D generated from aerial photography. The current automatically generated 3D is particularly poor at street level and when it comes to overhangs, such as bridges and trees. An alternative would be to simply use Street View to enhance the resolution of building facades in cities.

  • Historical Street View in Google Earth. Currently, the only way to view historical Street View is via Google Maps. In addition, as has been pointed out by a number of GEB readers, Google Earth does not correctly show the locations of user contributions in the form of Photo Spheres, even though they can be viewed in Google Earth.

What is your Google Earth wish list for 2015?

3D imagery map
Google’s 3D imagery map shows the lack of 3D coverage in Africa and Asia.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

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 would like to see Google Earth one day become “Google Solar System”, whereby the sun, Earth, moon and other planets are all rendered within one 3D environment so that one can navigate between them. Other objects could also be included,such as the various space probes, comets, ISS and major satellites etc, in their true positions.

    • Yes i agree this would really be beneficial when teaching my 4th graders about the Solar System and it relation to Planet Earth Alan you have a great idea i also want to see a Google Solar System

    • Look up the program Celestia. It does much of what you describe, but Earth is only detailed to the continent level.

  2. See the actual earth view in maps, becomme part of google maps API. Or a new Earth API with WebGL.

  3. User-customizable keyboard shortcuts, including the ability to assign shortcuts to the options popup.

    The ability to play a tour from a path backwards. You can’t change your view angle while the tour is playing anymore. (The online help is outdated on this point.)

    The complete Maps directions functionality, especially the ability to drag a waypoint to change the route before it’s saved to My Places.

  4. Oh don’t get me started.

    -The removal (or ability to turn off) auto-generated 3D in Google Earth. Case in point, I’m seeing plenty of areas where they’ve somewhat recently started to turn forrest areas into a 3D representation, which is merely an unbelievably annoying bulge because it’s always there and essentially a false part of the regular terrain, thus totally distorting the terrain (i.e. terrain no longer shows the “ground level” but instead is the top of the trees). It’s just wrong and incorrect, and makes Google Earth that much more useless.

    -Some work on the severely dated GUI and its plentiful limitations and dysfunctionalities. No one with a sense of ergonomics seems to have ever looked at it during its design. For starters, make it more customizable.

    -The ability to save/load/switch between user profiles for places and layers, so that you don’t have to wander through that ridiculous fold-out tree structure looking for 20 checkboxes to tick every time you need to see some completely different kind of map information.

    -Updates to the shamefully abandoned Mars and especially Moon, reflecting the massive amount of new research and data that has piled up since their inception in 2009.

    -This is 2015. We all have widescreen monitors now. How about making the HUD in the flight sim widescreen compatible? Has anyone ever looked at this since its introduction back when 4:3 monitors were the standard? (Right now it grows as a whole along with the width of the window, making the top compass line disappear.)

    And so much more…

    • Timothy Whitehead says

      3D buildings can be turned off altogether by unchecking the “3D Buildings” layer.

      The new 3D can be turned off in options:
      3D View->Terrain->Use 3D imagery (disable to use legacy 3D buildings).

      • In V6, this forrest terrain (*only* forrest, not buildings) is a permanent fixture and gets treated like regular terrain at all times (i.e. if you move the mouse across them, the elevation readout in the status line also jumps respectively). There it’s either terrain with those bulging forrests, or no terrain at all when you turn it off (elevation zero).

        • I would say that most areas aren’t like this but some places like Switzerland have very high resolution elevation data and the forests do bulge. But I don’t see this in most places with 3d buildings off.

        • To get ground level elevation where there is 3D Imagery in Google Earth (and 3D Imagery is turned on)…

          1. Draw Path (Add>Path)
          2. In the Layers side bar, right-click on the path, select ‘Show Elevation Profile’
          3. This will produce an Elevation Profile using the ground altitude.

          Assumes the path is made using the default “Clamp to Ground” Altitude setting.

          Though, the simplest thing would be for the user to simply uncheck “Use 3D imagery” in Prefs/Options.

          There probably should be a Google Earth setting to determine whether the mouse pointer elevation (Status Bar) displays the ground elevation or 3D Imagery model elevation.

    • Re: 3D Imagery vs DEM terrain.

      Because the 3D Imagery sits on top of the terrain in Google Earth you can do neat things like making it snow in Bryce Canyon, Utah!

  5. An option that allows directions to be viewed in google maps like before would be great.

    • when will more streets be added? I can go to most of the town I grew up in. But the 2 blocks my house is on will not show up. They excluded it.

  6. I want Google Earth gone. It is beyond update. Get me a decent API for maps in Webgl

  7. I really would like to see Google Earth Seasons introduced. A slider so that you can see any city in its different seasons. Instead of summer all the time. And no, using Historical Imagery doesnt cut it for that.

    • Yes! I came here from a search looking for this. I’m not sure why all the images are from summer–you’d think more detail would show with the leaves down. Plus I was hoping to get a sense of how many flowering trees there were in my town.

  8. Google Earth is a fantastic resource which has made massive progress in a decade at no direct cost to its users, and if there is to be an update of the desktop version its functionality and content should remain accessible and usable on most reasonably up to date desktop computers and at typical broadband speeds globally (this comment is in part prompted by the issue of crashes in areas of new 3D updates and possible ‘overload’).

    It would be good if any imagery updates of poor quality were placed only in the historic layer, but with some indication of their presence (prompted by the very mixed quality of some recent updates).

    Whilst Google’s corporate image is a minimalist look, there is no reason why compressive metadata should not be published on subsidiary pages in addition to the less than complete current user guides, for example to define the information in layers, thus adding to the value of the product – and on the subject of layers a rethink of the menu is way overdue.

  9. hopefully they add an option for 45 degree imagery that is my favorite part of the old Google Maps

  10. I wish oculus rift support. New 3d cities in Asia. Like Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, maybe some Chinese cities. And a better flight simulator.

    • I have just one wish. In comparance to Bing or Yandeks it is obvious that google do not use the original e.g. Digital Globe stuff and try to “rework” it with their special algorithm.
      The result is somtimes disappointing: blurry, wrong colors and not that clear as the competitors.
      Just leave the pictures as they are transferred by Digital Globe

  11. Lock North button, myplaces sync, historical Street View, Street View SpaceNavigator support, real full screen, and maybe some advanced manager to organize myplaces.

  12. Street views of African countries, starting with major Cities, Country Capitals and State capitals. Places of historic interest and gradually build up.. Google have cameras they lend out to travelers but wont lend out to travelers going to Sub-Saharan Africa.I dont know what the fears are. Also their staff in these countries seem to be not imaginative. Example Nigeria. Kano City has been around since the 10th century, a “big trading post and “jump off point for trader – slave traders to Tripoli in Libya in the 1700 -1900s, It has famous dye pits) Lagos City, Calabar with a the biggest Carnival in Africa, Abuja, Sokoto, Ibadan, Benin are places that bring other views of Africa besides the Hunger, disease and wars we see on CNN, BBC and Aljezera.
    There are lots of GIS enthusiasts who are willing to map for free for Google..The draw back is poor advice from google representatives in Nigeria who dont know how to make a case for the top brass to invest in Street/ 3D views.
    For now Enugu City in eastern Nigeria has gone ahead and done Street views of most of the city using Googles technology ( Cameras mounted on tricycles) why it’s not on Google street views I cant tell.

  13. I also want a Google Solar System an update of the Moon and Mars and the other planets in 3D plus their moons this would be very educational. 3D volumetric clouds would be nice, im sure there could be an algorithm using the current 2D cloud cover but with the cloud tops calculated in would be really neat. The new 3D cities is really awesome would love to see it expanded to the great cities of China South Korea India also some African ones would be great and more in South America. And what about using the 3D that’s currently used for cities but having 3D for National Parks like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite ect that is my wish list..
    Thank you Google….Google Earth has been one of the coolest new technological developments in the 21st century keep up the good work..(:

  14. I agree with Timothy in my biggest wish being that Google should fix some very longstanding bugs and also update the program to include new features with the frequency that Google used to. The current version is starting to feel a little stale, with the only improvement being increased coverage of 3d cities.

  15. B J Caldwell says

    I am often more interested in terrain features than human-made. There are some mountains marked now, but I rarely see river names. I would like to see more terrain features marked, perhaps on a separate layer.

  16. I want to see more detailed database listing/icons showing hill & mountain names against appropriate icon. This helps with transmitter site locations & hiking etc.

  17. My Google Earth wish is that Google kill Google Earth Client!

    Instead put effort into “organising the worlds geospatial information” by providing best-of-bread data (both licensed and crowd-sourced), API’s, tool-chains, etc. to the global developer community.

    Let developers build a “3d earth client” (if that’s what we want). Cesium is kinda there, but is hobbled by data sources & delivery over a below-par CDN, imho. Okay, maybe an google-built example ‘webgl earth client’.

    Google do a great job at wrangling huge amounts of mapping data, so keep doing that, but figure out what will take mapping to the NEXT level. The same way Google Maps & Earth kicked sand in the face of old-geo in the the first decade of the 21st century.

  18. New street view imagery in Bulgaria – necessarily! Fixed crash problem with NYC, Sydney itd. when launching SV from GE.

  19. Robert Stewart says

    I’d like Google Earth to help me develop my idea to map every cemetery, graveyard and mausoleum on earth. Including every row, lot, plot, with images of every headstone, tombstone, and/or markers just like Google’s other maps. A search engine for names and dates of the interred and of course, ads for local flower shops from that part of the world that will deliver and place flowers or what have you, on the graves. The bereaved could do a search and see their loved ones final resting place when every they wanted. The project has great historic relevance and I know have family and friends burred all over the earth that I can’t get to, or even know where they are burred. Give me a call Google…

  20. i would like to see africa

  21. i would like to see a map update every other year to see the changes donald fagen update has been done since 2004

  22. pakistan

  23. Is it possible to turn off the orthophoto “satellite” imagery and just see a DEM shaded relief of the landscape in GE? I’d like that.

  24. Thomas Holden says

    I wish to see Google Earth taken back in time, assuming that the Expanding Earth theory is accurate. This would involve leaving current features; landscape, cities, roads, etc. intact as much as possible, but allowing the stretch/ crack/ mash together & rotation of Plates to occur following the geologic chronology as faithfully as possible. Dovetailing with the animations of Neal Adams to allow a 2-3 minute expansion/ contraction video w/ current Earth features ( in full-view or zoomed-in) would be fascinating, and would illustrate how “one” and “close” the continents. Nations, and Peoples truly are!

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.