Google blogged today about Google Earth turning 10 and announced some new content in celebration. This announcement brings out some revelations about the future of Google Earth as well. So, we are very excited by the announcement here at Google Earth Blog.
First, let’s talk about the new layer Google announced. If you start up Google Earth today, you get a new layer in the layers panel on the lower left called “Voyager” and you will soon see they are calling it “Edition 1”. Future editions will update the content and possibly add even more features. The layer is intended to help show you the locations of all the most recent imagery and data available in Google Earth in four main categories:
- Street View highlights
- EarthView landscapes – desktop background suitable pretty places
- 3D Cities – locations of high-resolution 3D city maps
- Satellite/Aerial imagery – locations with the latest imagery
The layer also has a “Highlight tour” that literally flies you around the Earth to highlight samples from each of the new layers. Just to give you a taste, I’ve created short YouTube video that demonstrates the new layer and the tour.
More Details from Google’s Post
Today’s Google blog post was by Sean Askay who has been written about many times on Google Earth Blog. In the early days after Google Earth was released, Sean used the program for his Master’s studies. He later created some amazing stories using Google Earth and he was so innovative that Google ended up hiring him. He went on to create even more content, but also created the Tour mode in Google Earth that is actually a great resource for doing self-guided demonstrations (including the new Voyager layer). My favorite was the one he did with Astronaut Buzz Aldrin for the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon in 2009.
In Sean’s post, he not only announced the new Google Earth Voyager layer, but also a larger collection of beautiful Earth Views for the popular Chrome extension, and a slick new Earth View web application that shows not only the views, but also a little animated globe mapping the location of each shot.
Interesting Hints at the Future of Google Earth
Google made it very plain in their blog post, and in the new layer, that they look forward to seeing Google Earth for another ten years. Considering our fears of the possible demise of our favorite app, for the last couple of years, this is really good news. But, it gets even better. According to a recent interview on Wired, Sean is now the lead engineer overseeing future work on Google Earth. That’s particularly good news since two of the most important guys that built the original Google Earth have recently left Google (Michael Jones is now CEO of Wearality, and Brian McClendon is now going to Uber). In the Wired interview, Sean, and Google Earth Outreach manager Rebecca Moore, made some interesting comments about future plans for Google Earth which indicate a lot of thinking about leveraging the vast array of data Google has developed to create even more dynamic databases for new versions of Google Earth. And hints at uses of VR and AI technologies.
So, for the millions of fans of Google Earth out there, this really is a good cause for celebration. The future looks much brighter for Google Earth. Thank you Google for maintaining your commitment behind one of your greatest products!