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The new Google Earth has arrived

Today Google unveiled the new Google Earth. Two years in the making, the latest incarnation of Google Earth is available in the chrome browser and on Android devices. Google’s aim this time is for Google Earth to act as a new platform for sharing stories and giving new perspectives on locations and experiences- all supported with higher resolution imagery, 3D reality models, Streetview and multimedia.

The biggest difference with the new version of Google’s 3D map service is that Google Earth is no longer a standalone desktop application, but is instead now entirely browser based. It offers a simplified user experience, however, one that is lacking the advanced tools that the more spatially-inclined would find useful.

One of the major new features is Voyager, a platform for showcasing multimedia stories in a range of formats that integrate the 3D map and Steetview. To establish Voyager, Google joined up with some of the world’s leading storytellers, non-profits and data providers, including BBC Earth, the Jane Goodall Institute and DigitalEarth. In effect, Google Earth has launched a new platform for immersive, true-to-life experiences.

A maze in South Dakota is featured in DigitalGlobe’s “Land Art from Above“, a story on Google Earth’s new Voyager platfrom.

A good place to start is the “Natural Treasures” by BBC Earth. In it you will journey to six wildly different habitats to learn about the unique wildlife in each with an immersive multimedia experience.

DigitalGlobe has provided most of the imagery used in the new Google Earth and a few of the voyager applications feature some of the highest resolution Digital Earth supplies. Only high resolution imagery offered by the WorldView satellites would allow you to see elephants at a watering hole and stroll the temple complex at Angkor Wat. DigitalGlobe’s own Voyager entry, “Land Art from Above” also takes advantage of this high resolution imagery and 3D data, showing interesting structures and buildings the world over, including the corn maze shown above.

Crucially, the new Google Earth also overcomes the slow load times that previous versions struggled with. Depending on your internet connection, travelling across the globe has become more realistic and natural experience than Google Earth or Google Maps has ever offered before.

As impressive as all this sounds, what appears to be missing are the features spatial scientists and surveyors might find the most useful. The previous desktop versions of Google Earth allowed for the use of KML files for saving and uploading spatial data, viewing coordinate information, as well as distance and area measurement tools. This time around, they are nowhere to be seen. Luckily, you can still access all of these by downloading Google Earth 7 for desktop.

The new Google Earth is available now on the web in Chrome and will become available on Android during the week. It will also become available soon on iOS and other browsers.

What are your best experiences in the new Google Earth so far? What else is missing? Let us know in the comments below.

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