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:
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:
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 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.
It just keeps crashing and crashing on my Chrome. (Win7 64 with 8GB memory)
Leonardo Leidi says
Only a web version???
As usual very useful and informative
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.
Nick Hope says
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).
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.
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.
Sean Patrick Huberty says
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!
Cesium is the way to go. Much better product than this “new” release.
David Buckley says
So helpful for a noob. The flag setting made it work on my 2011 Mac Mini!
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.
Here in Moldova is not lauched 🙁
Doesn’t work on my Mac Pro 2009. (GeForce GT 120) even with aforementioned flag set to enabled.
I am sad to say that most of the additions to Google Earth over the past two years have decidedly been in favor of eye candy, but to the detriment of functionality. It used to be that I could go pretty much to any point in the world, go into ground level view and get a somewhat choppy but surprisingly realistic rendering of the surface profile, As of around two years ago the rendering of well established tourist traps has improved, but everything else has gone downhills. Case in point is 33.33956, -114.03443. This is a spiky peak that Earth used to render with uncanny realism circa 2014. Now it is a shapeless mass that bears zero relation to reality. What a pitty, I used to be a great fan but now find no reason to go to Earth any more.
flags worked for me on 2015 MBP
Joanne Fritz says
On my computer, w/ WebGL enabled, and a good adapter/card, i continually get:
ERROR: “Unfortunately your computer does not support WebGL graphics acceleration; Google Earth could not be loaded. Please try another device”.
I have selected this as well, and no joy: Override Software Rendering list.
Joanne Fritz says
To add: Windows 7 vice 10, and w/ advanced settings checked for :use hardware acceleration when available, and using Intel(R) HD Graphics 4000 adapter .
Thanks, it work well now on my MacBook Pro (2011)