New Google Earth Web Version Available Now

Went to check the Google Earth home page ahead of the press announcement this morning. Turns out there is a new home page which announces right at the top “Launch Earth for Chrome” with a big title saying “Gain a new perspective” followed by “Explore the reaches of the world, right in your browser”. Screenshot below:

New Google Earth

New Google Earth

Scrolling down the page and you see there’s a world to explore with a new feature called Voyager. And there’s a new Google Earth for Android version as well.

Back at the top, there is a button that says “Launch Google Earth” which all you have to do (with your Chrome browser only) is go to: Earth.Google.Com/web and you can see the new Google Earth which is out today!

As predicted, it appears today’s announcement is about a web-based version of Google Earth. And, it is WebGL based. In fact, I had a bit of a problem starting it because I have an old Macbook Pro (2011 model). The new version failed to load because it said WebGL wasn’t supported. What I had to do was open “chrome://flags” and select the first option “Override Software Rendering list“, select the “Relaunch” button, and then the new Google Earth version loaded in my browser. Hopefully, the vast majority of folks will either get the Android version, or not run into this issue on newer machines. And, those of you on Chromebooks will be able to open it too!

Upon launching, you get a first-time introductory tour which shows you some features. I checked out New York City (where I am now), and here’s what I got:

New York 3D in New GE

New York 3D in New GE

But, I can easily share this same view with you by simply sharing my URL. This is the same way Google Maps has worked on the desktop browser for a long time.

When you search for something, a little knowledge card appears about that place. If you click on that, the page expands and gives a lot more information about the place and links to related searches with similar information. This new version of Google Earth is very much focused on providing useful information about places.

There’s a lot more to explore and comment on this new version. But, I just wanted to get the word out now. I’ll be attending the press announcement and will report more in a few hours.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was released. He worked in 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.



Comments

  1. It just keeps crashing and crashing on my Chrome. (Win7 64 with 8GB memory)

  2. Leonardo Leidi says:

    Only a web version???

  3. As usual very useful and informative

  4. Pretty lame, much worse than the old non-browser version of Google Earth.
    For instance, it won’t even tell you the imagery date. Let alone that it’ll let you view historical imagery.
    This doesn’t do much that Google Maps doesn’t already do.

  5. It’s working fine for me but I can’t see any way to add placemarks. There is a setting to “Enable KML file import (experimental)” that is off by default. I switched it on and then I could manually open my large myplaces.kml file, and that worked, but I can’t see a way to edit it at all. So as far as I can tell so far it’s really just a viewer. The one thing I really want from Google Earth is improved ways to organise placemarks.

    • Frank Taylor says:

      They explained at the event that this first version does not have content creation or editing tools. They are working hard on bringing that to the new platform. They focused on the fundamentals first and the new ways of exploring and finding places for this first release.

      • But how can this be possible? How can a team need two years for this? This is so bare bones, so useless, really disappointed in Google (again).

  6. Hopefully they launch a Firefox friendly version as well, sometime today.

    • Frank Taylor says:

      Firefox, and other browsers, will probably take a while. I overheard the engineers explaining that they have to wait until browser technology becomes more robust and can handle some of the heavy lifting that Google Earth requires. I’ll try to explain this in more detail in a later post.

  7. J Michaelson says:

    Google Earth new and improved, now with 90% less features. Yay “progress”.

    • Frank Taylor says:

      As I say in the first review post, there is a lot missing, but they are working hard to add in the most popular features from classic GE. This is the reason they intend to continue supporting Classic GE – so we can still use the features we like – until they can implement them in the new platform.

  8. I was just getting acquainted with google earth. Would you be able to point me in the right direction to developing my own flight simulator-like program? I was looking into cesium, but maybe you’re aware of other options? thanks!

  9. So helpful for a noob. The flag setting made it work on my 2011 Mac Mini!

  10. Mike McCutcheon says:

    I can’t find any reference to minimum system requirements. Does it run in Chrome v49 in Windows XP ? I I think that’s the highest Chrome version for Windows XP. The first time about 90% of GE web loaded then stopped without any message. Thereafter GE web doesn’t even start to load: “0 of 4.543 billion years processed” so I might have to be patient ! Same if I enable “Override software rendering list” as recommended above.

  11. Here in Moldova is not lauched 🙁

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