On Tuesday, Google will preview a forthcoming version of Google Earth that is promised to be a “brand new experience.” It’s sure to be a much-needed overhaul of the service, which has gradually become less popular than Google Maps and which hosts an app that is about to become obsolete.
Members of the press received invitations to a “first look” at the new Google Earth, which will take place at New York’s Whitney Museum of Art. Google hasn’t disclosed any further information, but speculation has been running wild about what this revitalization might include.
Here are the circulating theories about the revamped version of Google Earth. Google is set to announce the news on blog.google.com Tuesday as well.
1. It Could Replace Google Maps
One of the biggest rumors is that the new Google Earth could completely take the place of Google Maps, maybe because some functions of the two services overlap. Mapping on Google Earth could be an improvement over Google Maps in that you’d be using realistic-looking terrain and visual landmarks.
2. Google Earth Could Connect with Virtual Reality
In November, Google Earth launched a free virtual reality (VR) component that was an immediate success. It’s currently available only on the HTC Vive VR headset, so folks want to see it move to more headsets, including Google’s own Daydream. Google also might add more locations to its VR offerings; right now you can tour places like the Grand Canyon and the Amazon River, but wouldn’t it be amazing to go to the pyramids? Check out polar ice caps? Explore the Great Barrier Reef from underwater?! Google could be dreaming up any number of cool additions.
3. Google Earth Could Add Live Video
A follow-up to the VR tours of famous sites could be live video feeds of popular locations. Imagine a feed of Times Square or Morocco’s Djemaa El-Fna.
4. Google Earth Could Cover More Parts of the Earth
Google Earth’s coverage of areas outside of the United States, particularly non-Western and rural areas, is noticeably inferior. A remote village in the U.S. will appear clearer and in greater detail than a village in India. Maybe Google will try to remedy this disparity so that Google Earth can be equally useful for all citizens of the world.
No matter what this announcement about Google Earth reveals, it’s sure to be significant. The internet is aching for details, but we’ll have them soon enough.