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All about Google Earth and world map apps

About Google Earth

Google Earth is a virtual globe, map, and geographical information app. With Google Earth online or Google Earth for mobile, you can travel around the planet, exploring 2D or 3D recreations of maps, terrain, 3D buildings, and much more. You can see the planet from space using satellite imagery or view the world at ground level with the integrated Google Earth Street View feature. The mobile version also allows you to explore on your own or use the "tour guide" to bring up virtual tours from around the globe.

Google Earth


Latest versions

Google Earth

Google Earth FAQ

  • What are the system requirements to use Google Earth?
    For Windows, you can use XP or Vista, but Windows 7 or higher is recommended. For Mac, OS X 10.6 is the minimum requirement, and Mac OS X 10.6.8 or higher is recommended. On Android devices, you'll need version 2.1 or higher, and on iPhone, at least iOS 5.0.
  • What's the difference between the desktop, mobile, and browser versions of Google Earth?
    On desktop, you can view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, faraway galaxies, and the ocean depths. In a browser, the Google Earth plug-in allows you to navigate and explore geographic data on a 3D globe using Web browsers Safari and Firefox. The mobile app enables you to fly over 3D imagery of metropolitan areas or let the tour guide show you around.
  • What's the difference between Google Earth and Google Earth Pro?

    Google Earth lets you explore extensive geographical content, zoom from space to street level, search businesses, visualize and share your GPS tracks, fly around the world in 3D, time travel with historical imagery, and dive beneath the surface of the ocean.

    Google Earth Pro enables you to utilize everything Google Earth has to offer, plus capitalize on advanced business tools, which enable you to compute distances and areas using measurement tools, use Movie Maker to create media collateral, print high-res images for reports, import large vector image files to quickly map GIS data, and map addresses with the Spreadsheet Importer.

Google Earth alternatives

Google Earth may be the most advanced, feature-rich app for viewing satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, faraway galaxies, and the deep ocean. But it's not the only one. Here are three competitors that can also get the job done.

Nasa World Wind

NASA World Wind is a free desktop app, developed by NASA with the open-source community. It allows you to zoom from satellite altitude to anywhere on Earth. Leveraging Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, the app enables you to experience earthly terrain in 3D. NASA World Wind users can also view, tilt, rotate, and zoom the Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and the Galilean Moons. There are also numerous plug-ins and add-ons for features like camera-controlling scripts and XML files that can display place-markers as icons.

Marble

Explore the world with Marble's robust set of city and street-level maps. Search for addresses and places of interest. Figure out and create walking, biking, and driving routes online and offline via drag and drop. View clouds and sun shadow, follow satellites and space stations, and display their orbits in real-time. Time travel using maps from past centuries. Use the app similarly to a desktop globe, and pan around and measure distances. At closer scale it becomes a world atlas, while OpenStreetMap takes you to street level. Marble also offers maps of the moon and other planets.

Planets

The mobile-only app provides 2D and 3D views of the sky, easing identification of planets and constellations. Spin the Earth or the planet of your choice with one finger. It also shows times when planets are most visible.


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Joshua Rotter is a copy editor for Download.com and covers iOS.