Google Earth gets a mobile-friendly makeover

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

NEW YORK– Google Earth is getting a facelift.

Google Earth, which is known for showing satellite imagery, topography and 3D buildings, unveiled new features on Tuesday that offer additional information and more interactive experiences.

New features like “Knowledge Cards” give more information, history and pictures of places people search for, while “I’m feeling lucky” suggests unique locations, like the Pemba Island off the Swahili coast or the Zao Hot Spring in Yamagata, Japan.

Google Earth is also partnering with organizations like BBC Planet Earth, NASA, Sesame Street and the Jane Goodall Institute for interactive guided tours with its already existing Voyager feature. Google launched a special Voyager story called “This Home,” which showcases traditional homes from cultures around the world, such as a Peruvian chuclla and a Bedouin tent.

Users can also click the new 3D button to see locations from any angle, like navigating all the way around the Grand Canyon and seeing its geological layers. People can snap a “postcard” that captures a memory or a dream vacation spot and send it to friends and family. Recipients can click the link to jump right to where the user was virtually standing.

The new version of Google Earth rolls out this week on Chrome and Android, and on iOs and other browsers soon. Previously, the service had limited functionality on mobile, but users can now access all of Google Earth’s features from their devices.

In last year’s upgrade, the mapping service began using images from a NASA satellite to create clearer and sharper pictures.

Google Earth launched more than a decade ago, giving people a space-eye view of earth, while developers got free 3D software.