Sean Askay, right, engineering manager with Google Earth, demonstrates features on Google Earth, displayed in background, Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in New York. Google Earth is getting a revival, with the mapping service becoming more of a tool for adventure and exploration. (AP Photo/Anick Jesdanun)
Fiza Pirani, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Just in time for Earth Day 2017, tech giant Google debuted a brand-new version of its virtual explorer program, Google Earth, packed with a multitude of exciting new features.
“We want to open up different lenses for you to see the world and learn a bit about how it all fits together; to open your mind with new stories while giving you a new perspective on the locations and experiences you cherish,” Google product manager Gopal Shah wrote in a blog post Tuesday.
Here’s what you can expect from the new version:
Voyager: Interactive, informative and fun guided tours
The new Voyager feature allows you to go on interactive guided tours with the help of “some of the world’s leading storytellers, scientists and nonprofits,” Shah wrote.
For example, you can use the feature to go on a tour of Tanzania’s Gombe National Park and learn about chimpanzee research and conservation efforts from Jane Goodall herself.
Or you can journey to Earth’s major habitats -- islands, mountains, deserts, jungles and more -- to learn about the wildlife in each with guidance from experts at BBC Earth.
Shah said Voyager includes more than 50 immersive stories with more added on a weekly basis.
“I’m feeling lucky” button: See where the world takes you with the click of a button
The new “I’m feeling lucky” Google Earth button could throw you into the depths of the Amazon rainforest, the Zao Hot Spring in Japan or one of the other 20,000 curated places around the globe.
At any given place, you can open a Knowledge Card and view images, learn about the history and more.
3D button: See any place from any angle
A new 3D button appears in the corner wherever you (virtually) are, so you can take in drone’s-eye views of the the world’s marvels.
For example, Shah wrote, you may choose to uncover the awe-inspiring architecture of the Château de Chambord in France’s Loire Valley or perhaps plunge into the depths of the Grand Canyon’s geological layers.
Postcards: Share the beauty you stumble upon with loved ones
This new feature allows you to share your favorite Google Earth finds with family and friends. Share a Postcard and your loved ones will be able to click on the link and immerse themselves too.
Shah said the new Google Earth is now available on the web in your Chrome browser.
This week, it will roll out on Android devices and will be available on iOS and other browsers in the “near future.”