There's life beyond Google Maps for seeing the world around you. Google Earth is Google's other mapping program, and it provides more of satellite's eye view of the globe. If you haven't used it in a while, it's well worth your time to download Google Earth, either for your computer or mobile device.
Whereas Google Maps largely focuses on navigation, Google Earth is more about discovery. Yes, you can use the desktop or mobile version to see how to get to places. But the real value is to hone in on the details of famous sites, interesting locations and personalized spots that have meaning to you.
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Before you can start exploring the world with Google Earth, you need to download the app. Here's where you'll find it, what platforms it works on and what you can do with Google Earth once it's installed.
Where to download Google Earth
Google Earth is available in a browser-based version you access from your desktop. In addition to Google's own Chrome browser — naturally — you can access Google Earth on the web using Edge, Firefox or Opera.
If you'd like to import and export GIS data, there's a desktop version of Google Earth called Google Earth Pro. Don't let the Pro name fool you — it reflects the feature set, and not the price, as like Google Earth, Google Earth Pro is a free download. The pro version works on Windows, macOS or Linux.
- Google Earth Pro: Google
As for mobile devices, you can also get a global view by downloading Google Earth for either Android or iOS. The mobile version syncs up with any info you've stored on the desktop version so you can look at the same places regardless of device.
- Google Earth for Android: Google Play
- Google Earth for iOS and iPhone: iOS App Store
What you can do with Google Earth
Besides a view of nearly the entire world pieced together from satellites and Google Street view images — which in itself is pretty cool — Google Earth features some other functionality as well. You're able to upload your own photos and videos to the site to add meaning and details to locations. If you want, you choose to share stories with others, which can come in handy for class projects or presentations. You're able to draw on the map as well.
Voyager allows you to get more out of Google Earth by taking you on guided tours of points of interest as well as other countries and cultures. It's a great way to explore without leaving home. And if the earth seems fairly limited, an update to the mobile version of Google Earth from earlier this year lets you pull back to 30,000 miles above the earth to see some of the surrounding stars.
Google Earth has captured approximately 98% of the globe and there's an estimated 10 million miles of Street View photos to help you explore.