User contributed photos and the new Google Earth

One welcome improvement to the new Google Earth over Google Earth Classic is that the user contributed photos now work. For a long time, Google Earth Classic has shown the blue dots representing user contributed photos, but dropping Pegman on them doesn’t work.

However, when you compare the blue Street View layers between the new Google Earth and Google Maps, we find there are a lot less blue dots marking user contributed photos. Below we compare the blue Street View layer around the Washington Monument (Washington DC, USA) in the new Google Earth and Google Maps.

New Google Earth.

Google Maps.

As you can see above, Google Maps has a lot more blue dots. However, if you know exactly where to drop Pegman, all the photos are still accessible in the new Google Earth, they just don’t show in the blue layer. In Google Maps and both versions of Google Earth, the blue layer changes as you zoom in and out and you see more dots as you zoom in, but one would expect that at maximum zoom you should be able to see all user contributed content. Below is a location on Table Mountain where I captured some Street View along one of the trails using a cell phone:

Left: Google Maps. Right: New Google Earth.

As you can see above, none of the blue dots show in the new Google Earth. But if you drop Pegman there, then the images do open. We thought that possibly the layer is out of date, but when we had a look at Guatemala, which got fresh Street View recently, we find that the layer is up to date in the new Google Earth.

Left: Google Maps. Right: New Google Earth.

When zoomed out there is a noticeable absence of blue dots in the new Google Earth as compared to Google Maps.

Google really needs to sort this out and give user contributed content more prominence – especially given that the new Earth does not include the popular Panoramio and 360 Cities layers from Google Earth Classic. Panoramio is set to be shut down completely in November.

One tip for exploring the blue Street View outlines layer in the new Google Earth is to drop Pegman where there is no Street View (in the middle of an ocean for example). A message appears saying “Select a location highlighted in blue to enter Street View” and until you close the message or choose to enter Street View, you can explore without the blue layer disappearing.

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. Sort this out? Not gonna happen.
    Can’t you see that Google does that ON PURPOSE to discourage people from using stand alone app?

  2. Michael says
  3. The people in Google know little in programming and are part of the fan crowd that thinks a smartphone is a PC. I have been using computers since Commodore 64 and I can tell you a smartphone is as much of a PC as an American muscle car is a Porsche.

    Do people get all excited and think their American muscle car is some European speed car? No so why do people who have smartphones think they hold a PC in their pocket?

    It’s like taking a desktop and strip it down to it’s most fundamental dumb settings which you can only do simple calculator type apps and online chat or stream videos nothing else.

    Besides with the small screen why would you want to do anything else?

  4. BTW: I’m not dissing smartphones as they are great communication tools when used correctly but the illusion of trying to make a PC out of them is just that. An utopian illusion and since our infrastructure isn’t set up for it we are just getting bogged down because everybody is on the same line.

    That’s the real reason the USA has some of the worlds crappiest server speeds and instead of fixing it their answer is for IPS to throttle speeds so you won’t download too much Hunger Game shows slowing the web down for doctors and dentists who uses it for work.

    Which is only a short term solution well it’s not even a solution as it fixes nothing. It just hides the internal problems.

    Unfortunately Hillarys 25 billion tax fixes would’ve likely not got a single cent on it and she never really had a plan other then just suck from tax payers that are already strapped. Sure some rich folks could afford it but why would they? They would just move all their assets out of the nation further making the rest of us poor.

    The Stimulus Plan started the very same way promising to fix our roads and bridges when Bush did it but then Obama added over a trillion in spending to stupid stuff and nothing went to the roads and bridges originally promised.

    If anything he put money into failed solar energy companies that went bankrupt.

  5. Alas of my 2800 contributions to Google,
    most will never be found unless you have the URL, .

  6. “Google really needs to sort this out and give user contributed content more prominence”
    I completely agree! Not only that, but they need to let you find out more about a contributor if you want to, even if it’s a couple layers deep. Right now all you can do is see some other photos in a infinite scroll interface that is basically impossible to get a good idea from. Give contributors a little more attribution here! In Panoramio, users could have a little profile blurb, a link to their own site, and they could communicate with other users by commenting on photo pages and such. Right now there is basically no way to do that. I have been able to comment on a photo before (on Google Maps, after going to its URL), but now i can’t seem to anymore.

    And it really sucks that photo have to be uploaded to points of interest.The problem with that is that many of my photos are interesting places but there is no point of interest right in that spot. The most relevant point of interest available is like a national park or something which covers a huge area. Anyway I’d prefer images show up at their actual point on the map. In some views it does and in others it only shows at the linked point of interest. And you also can’t add natural points of interest even if you’re in the Local Guides program so its very suboptimal to say the least trying to upload photos that don’t match up to a nearby point of interest that Google supports.

    As it is now, I am loathe to contribute much. I really want to fill in spots on the map with some cool photos of great places, but not if this is how it works. It is definitely much more geared toward local businesses and such.

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.