Google Earth recently added new features to their mobile application that make it easier for people to navigate the world and even explore some places virtually. Most of us have probably encountered Google Maps – the popular navigation application from Google. Well Google Earth is the more enhanced version of Google Maps, it offers a more detailed place of where you are or what to go powered by Satellite.
The new features within the application help better utilize the satellite images that are found within Google Earth to provide users with a better experience. Previously, one would probably open Google Earth if they wanted to see a more detailed view of a street that they were navigating within Google Maps and then leave once that had been achieved. The applications didn’t provide much other than that.
Some of the new features in the app are the ability for people to pick any point on Earth and then navigate to it and take a virtual tour. This is similar to the Google Expeditions application which we talked about a few weeks ago. However, unlike Google Expeditions, Google Earth’s adventure feature isn’t powered by virtual reality so this makes it more accessible to more people as VR content requires extra hardware to view.
The number of places that you can visit in a 3-dimensional 360-degree view is mainly determined by the community. Satellite images can only show us a bird’s eye view of any location but they can’t give us that feel of being there when looking at the images. So a while ago, Google saw this problem and introduced something called Google local guides.
This is basically a community of people who help to map their areas by taking pictures when they visit certain popular or even infamous places. The same community is the one that helps bring more adventures to the public by taking 3-dimensional 360-degree pictures of environments that they visit. The community is not exclusive and anyone can join and start contributing. I myself have joined and I think it would help make Zimbabwe more visible online if people would document the places that they visit.
Other than adventures or “voyages” as the feature is called in Google Earth, they have also added the ability for people to snap and share places. So let’s say you were Joina City and wanted to show your friend who is not in Zimbabwe a view that’s just like what you’re seeing, well now you can just click a button within the application and they will get a link that they can open and view the place in that 3-D 360-degree experience that we talked about. That’s if it has been submitted by someone as we mentioned earlier.
The last improvement that has come to the application is how interactive it is. When on a voyage, you can navigate around the place if possible by clicking a set of on screen buttons. This simulates the feeling of being there but it’s not just quite as good as the virtual reality equivalent of the same thing. You can also press a button that will ”roll a dice” and transport you to another location for exploration.
For local creatives, this is a chance for them to showcase their photography talent by posting stunning pictures of places that they visit. This is something that is needed for Zimbabwe as most places in the country are not visible in an interactive and immersive digital format that isn’t a video.