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Google Earth reinvented for new era

Updated Apr 19, 2017 08:44am

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SAN FRANCISCO: Google on Tuesday launched a reimagined version of its free Earth mapping service, weaving in storytelling and artificial intelligence and freeing it from apps.

“This is our gift to the world,” Google Earth director Rebecca Moore said while giving AFP an early look at the new version of the program that lets people range the planet from the comfort of their computers, smartphones or tablets.

A new ‘Voyager’ feature enables people digitally exploring the planet to be guided on interactive stories told by experts, boasting partners including BBC Earth, Nasa, Sesame Street, and the Jane Goodall Institute.

Google artificial intelligence will be put to work for Earth users in the form of “knowledge cards” that let them dive deeper into online information about mountains, countries, landmarks or other places being virtually visited.

It will also make suggestions on other locations armchair explorers might be interested in based on what they have searched in the past.

There is also a newly installed “Feeling Lucky?” feature for people who want to let the software suggest hidden gems such as Pemba Island off the Swahili coast or the Oodaira Hot Spring in Yamagata, Japan.

Online explorers cruising the mobile version of Earth can also capture pictures on their travels, sending friends digital postcards.

New Earth was launched on Google’s Chrome and Android software, with versions tailored for Apple devices and other internet browsing software promised soon.

It’s the first time that Earth can be reached on a web browser instead of through applications installed on devices.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2017

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