As was mentioned last week by dozens of media outlets, Google sent out press invitations to an event for April 18th to roll out a “brand new Google Earth” experience. I will be attending and will report on this long-awaited event!
New Google Earth
Google didn’t say much in their invitation, and we have yet to receive any press material. But, we believe this announcement will describe a new version of Google Earth that will work on desktop and mobile platforms. Our guess is that there will be a web based version on desktop OSes – most likely with WebGL, which is the predominant standard being used for graphics intensive web apps today. If it is browser based, it means more OS platforms will have access to Google Earth content. We’ll have to wait and see whether the new application will have new features beyond the current Google Earth, or a subset.
Google Earth VR Update?
There may also be announcements about new features/versions of the Google Earth VR application which was released last November for HTC Vive VR platform. There have been no significant updates to that application, and we expect Google is likely to release an Oculus Rift version (since they recently released a Rift Touch version of their Google Tiltbrush VR paint application for the HTC). Or, we may see a version for Google’s Daydream VR platform – although that will be a less-capable version since Daydream VR doesn’t currently support HMD tracking or full 3D controllers.
Other New Content
It’s also possible there will be an unveiling of more Google Earth 3D imagery (aireal imagery converted to 3D data using photogrammetry), and content especially geared towards the new versions. Google has a history of doing this for major updates to Google Earth. There was less 3D imagery added in 2016, but they may have been saving up for this announcement.
As long time fans of Google Earth, we are going to be watching closely to see if this new Google Earth will support popular features from the more than 12 year legacy of Google Earth desktop applications. Keep following Google Earth Blog during, and after, the event for all the latest news and analysis. We have been reporting on Google Earth applications and content for nearly 12 years now.