Today, the novelty of Google Earth has worn off for many, but it’s hard to dispute just how amazing the service was when it launched back in 2005. Having access to satellite imagery on that scale seemed like something more suited to the Batcave than a Web browser, and having been under constant development over the past decade, it’s even more useful now than it was then.
From illegal marijuana farming to the bottom of the ocean, Google Earth has given us the opportunity to see things we might not have been able to otherwise. As the service celebrates its 10th birthday, several new features are being rolled out to ensure that it continues to wow users as it continues to mature and develop.
Voyager is a new way of navigating through the desktop version of Google Earth. It allows users to become acquainted with what Google Earth’s engineering manager Sean Askay describes as “the newest and most interesting imagery around the globe.” This includes seeing sights such as the Taj Mahal from Street View, a selection of cities rendered in 3D and a highlight tour of interesting locations.
It also contains Earth View, an eye-catching collection of satellite images that aims to gather images of our planet at its most beautiful. The project began, like several other notable Google projects, as part of the company’s ethos that 20 percent of each employee’s time should be spent working on projects to further Google’s reach.
There are more than enough projects in the world of technology that only serve to make a profit, but Google Earth certainly isn’t part of that number. For anyone with a passing interest in the planet they live on, it offers up a real treasure trove of things to see — for anyone without the means to explore the farthest reaches of Earth firsthand, it’s about the best alternative that we have for the time being. Isn’t that worth a spot on your hard drive?