Tag Archives: Google Earth

Google Earth 6.2: It’s a beautiful world

We’re taking bird’s eye view to a whole new level with the latest version of Google Earth, released today. With Google Earth 6.2, we’re bringing you the most beautiful Google Earth yet, with more seamless imagery and a new search interface. Additionally, we’ve introduced a feature that enables you to share an image from within Google Earth, so you can now simply and easily share your virtual adventures with family and friends on Google+.

A seamless globe


The Google Earth globe is made from a mosaic of satellite and aerial photographs taken on different dates and under different lighting and weather conditions. Because of this variance, views of the Earth from high altitude can sometimes appear patchy.

Today, we’re introducing a new way of rendering imagery that smoothes out this quilt of images. The end result is a beautiful new Earth-viewing experience that preserves the unique textures of the world’s most defining geographic landscapes—without the quilt effect. This change is being made on both mobile and desktop versions of Google Earth. While this change will appear on all versions of Google Earth, the 6.2 release provides the best viewing experience for this new data.

Grand Canyon before and after

Sri Lanka before and after

Share your explorations with Google+
Google Earth is a great way to virtually explore the globe, whether revisiting old haunts or checking out a future vacation spot. With the Google Earth 6.2 update, we’ve added the option to share a screenshot of your current view in Google Earth through Google+. If you’ve already upgraded to Google+, you can share images of the places you’ve virtually traveled to with your Circles, such as family, friends or your local hiking club. To try this new feature, simply sign in to your Google Account in the upper right hand corner of Google Earth and click “Share.” Images of mountains, oceans, deserts, 3D cities, your favorite pizza shop on Street View—you can now experience all these amazing places around the world with people on Google+.


Search improvements
We’ve also made some updates to the search feature in Google Earth. Aside from streamlining the visual design of the search panel, we’ve enabled the same Autocomplete feature that’s available on Google Maps. We’ve also introduced search layers, which will show all the relevant search results (not just the top ten), so now, when looking for gelato in Milano, you can see all the tasty possibilities. Finally, we’ve added biking, transit and walking directions, so if you’re itching for a change of scenery or looking for a new route for your regular commute, you can now use Google Earth to generate and visualize all your options.

Biking directions in Google Earth

Download Google Earth 6.2 and start exploring and sharing today!

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)

Santa Claus is coming to town… find out where with Google and NORAD

It’s that time of year again! The stockings are hung by the chimney with care and Google and NORAD are ready to answer the question of “where?”

NORAD’s tradition of tracking Santa on Christmas Eve started in 1955, when a Sears and Roebuck ad promoting the Talk-to-Santa hotline inadvertently sent callers to CONAD (NORAD’s predecessor) commander-in-chief’s operations hotline. After recovering from the surprise that the call was not from the Pentagon or the White House but instead a little boy inquiring if the commander was Santa Claus, Colonel Harry Shoup asked his team to check their radar for signs of Santa’s sleigh and a tradition was born.

The Santa tracking tradition has grown over the years and today it’s also possible to track Santa using Google Earth and Google Maps on the NORAD Santa site, and on your mobile phone as well. Starting tomorrow (Saturday, December 24) at 2:00 a.m. EST, visit www.noradsanta.org to follow Santa’s journey from the North Pole to homes all over the globe. This year there are many ways to keep tabs on Santa’s sleigh, no matter how quickly it moves:

  • Follow Santa on Google Maps: Visit www.noradsanta.org to see where Santa is currently flying and where he’s headed next on Google Maps. Click on the video icons to watch “Santa cam” videos from all over the world, and the gift icons will display information about each city along the route.
  • Watch Santa fly in 3D with the Google Earth plug-in: If you have the Google Earth plug-in installed on your computer, you can track Santa’s location in 3D and see him deliver presents everywhere from the mountain villages of the Swiss Alps to the white sand beaches of Hawaii.
  • Track Santa from your mobile phone: Follow Santa on the go by searching for [santa] on the Google Maps for mobile app.
  • Get updates via social media: The NORAD team will be posting updates about Santa’s flight throughout the day on December 24. Follow them on Google+, Twitter or Facebook for live updates.
  • Subscribe to the NORAD Tracks Santa YouTube channel: All “Santa cam” videos will be posted on the NORAD Tracks Santa YouTube channel as they’re captured. You can also watch a recap of Santa’s 2010 trip. Check back often for updates!
Santa flying over London in Google Earth

NORAD Tracks Santa is a special project near and dear to all of us involved. I started working on the program seven years ago and it’s been a thrill to watch it grow over the years. Recently, I was given the opportunity to speak at TEDActive about the origins of NORAD Tracks Santa and how Google has brought this to life in Google Earth.

I’d like to thank all of Santa’s “elves” that helped out across Google and NORAD far and wide. Happy Holidays!

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)

Here comes Santa Claus

Whether you know him as Père Noël, Weihnachtsmann, Babbo Natale, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus, there’s a chance you’re anticipating a visit from the jolly old man this December 24. Although he goes by many different names, the magic he brings to the holidays is felt by children and adults celebrating Christmas all over the world.

Growing up in Lawrence, Kansas, I have fond memories of racing to the tree Christmas morning to see what Santa left during his stop in my town. Sometimes it took a lot of work to stay on the right side of the “naughty or nice” list, but Santa came through for me every year.

Like most traditions, this one has evolved over time. Now, in addition to racing downstairs to their stockings, children can follow Santa online on his annual trip from the North Pole to their chimney. With NORAD Tracks Santa, children and families can watch Santa as he delivers presents all over the globe (with a little help from the North American Aerospace Defense Command). If you haven’t yet followed this tradition in your family, we’d like to invite you to join us this Christmas Eve.

The countdown to track Santa begins today. Visit www.noradsanta.org the entire month of December to play holiday games and learn fun facts about NORAD and Santa. Set a reminder for 2 a.m. EST on December 24 to start tracking Santa in real-time on the website using Google Maps, and in 3D with Google Earth. If your phone is handy on Christmas Eve, you can also search for [santa] on Google Maps for mobile to track his journey on the go.

Wherever you are, we look forward to counting down to the holidays with you at www.noradsanta.org. Be sure to finish all your holiday shopping in time so you can join us for the main event on December 24.

In the meantime, to get into the Santa tracking spirit, follow NORAD Tracks Santa on Google+ and enjoy a few highlights from last year’s journey in this video:

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)

Google Earth downloaded more than one billion times

(Cross-posted from the Lat Long Blog)

How large is one billion? One billion hours ago modern humans were living in the Stone Age. One billion minutes ago, the Roman Empire was flourishing. If you traveled from Earth to the Moon three times, your journey would measure one billion meters.

Today, we’ve reached our own one billion mark: Google Earth has been downloaded more than one billion times since it was first introduced in 2005. That’s more than one billion downloads of the Google Earth desktop client, mobile apps and the Google Earth plug-in—all enabling you to to explore the world in seconds, from Earth to Mars to the ocean floor.


We’re proud of our one billion milestone, but we’re even more amazed at the way people have used Google Earth to explore the world. When we founded Keyhole, Inc. back in 2001 (the company was acquired by Google in 2004), we never imagined our geospatial technology would be used by people in so many unexpected ways. At www.OneWorldManyStories.com, we’ve collected stories from people all over the world who use Google Earth to follow their dreams, discover new and distant places, or make the world a better place.

Visit www.OneWorldManyStories.com to learn about people like Professor David Kennedy of the University of Western Australia, who’s used Google Earth to scan thousands of square kilometers in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Professor Kennedy has discovered ancient tombs and geoglyphs dating back at least 2,000 years, all without leaving his desk in Perth. Architect Barnaby Gunning, after the April 6, 2009 earthquake near L’Aquila Italy, encouraged his fellow citizens to start rebuilding the city virtually in 3D. Their online urban planning will aid city planners and architects. Retired English teacher Jerome Burg created Google Lit Trips, which uses Google Earth to match places in famous books to their geographical locations, encouraging students to create connections between the stories they read in school and the world they live in.

We hope you enjoy the site, and that it illustrates how some of those one billion downloads of Google Earth have been making a difference. You can explore these stories right in your browser with the Google Earth plug-in or download the KML files to view in Google Earth.

If you have a Google Earth story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you. If you don’t have Google Earth, download it now and be part of the next billion stories. While it’s inspiring to see how Google Earth has touched the lives of so many, we know the best is yet to come.