In a sea of great products, Google Earth and Google Maps still stand out as two of the company’s finest software. There is virtually no challenger for these ubiquitous map tools. They cover so much that you might not even know about some of their best parts.
A few websites, and Google themselves, do their best to highlight some of the amazing data on Earth and Maps. From timelines that show the earth aging, to chronicling silly and weird things captured by Google’s cameras, this is the best of Google Earth.
1. Earth Engine Timelapse (Web): See How Any Part of Earth Changed
Google has been collecting satellite photos for many years now. Put one next to another, these can give you an incredible view of how a region on our globe has changed. To do that, Google created a new mini-site called Timelapse.
Timelapse is a photography technique that captures changes in one scene. The idea is to keep the camera stationary and take photos over a long period. In Google’s case, the “camera” is the satellite, and the “scene” is parts of the earth seen from space. The result is magnificent.
You can pan-and-scan to go to any location on Earth, and you will see it changing over the years. Timelapse also works when zoomed in, which is a remarkable perspective to see how your own neighborhood has developed.
2. Weird Google Earth (Web): All the Strange Sights Captured by Google
When seen from a bird’s eye view, some things on our planet look strange. Others, of course, are intentional. But no matter what, they’re entertaining. Weird Google Earth puts them all in one place.
The site is no longer updated, but its archives are a great starting point for some of the more bizarre things captured by Google’s cameras. For example, there’s the “Revolution” sign in Arizona and a suspected “UFO cave”. A lot of them are weird conspiracy theories that the internet loves, but that doesn’t stop them from being weird in the first place.
The “Most Liked Posts” isn’t a great place to browse, we think. Instead, pick a category that interests you, like historic structures, human creations, or mysterious structures.
3. Street View Fun (Web): Down to Earth Doesn’t Mean Down to Earth
Apart from the top-down view, Google also captures ground-level photos of areas with Street View. It’s an incredibly useful tool, and you can actually go virtual globe-trotting with Street View. But well, people will be people, so there are some hilarious sights that crop up.
We rounded up nine of the weirdest things on Street View, but that’s not even close to the full list. Plus, as Google expands Street View coverage in non-U.S. countries, more and more strange things are captured on camera. Street View Fun has been chronicling all of them, and is updated almost every day.
Check the “most popular this month”, browse through last year’s best finds, or just go through the site chronologically. No matter how you choose to peruse Street View Fun, you’ll have a good time.
4. GeoGuessr (Web): Play a Game of “Where Is This Place?”
This isn’t the first time we’re talking about GeoGuessr. It’s one of the most addictive travel games on the internet. But since the last time we mentioned it, it has been completely revamped and made a lot better.
At GeoGuessr, you can play a single player game or a challenge mode with your friends. The objective in either is the same. You’ll be shown a Street View image, and you have to identify which part of the world it’s from. Browse around inside the image, there are usually a few clues. The closer you get to the right location, the more points you earn. Each game has five rounds of guessing locations, and the person with the most points wins.
Originally it was a worldwide game, but GeoGuessr now also has specific types of areas for you to play in. For example, you can dive into New York City and try to identify places, to find out if you know the Big Apple better than your friends.
5. Google Earth Blog (Web): Everything New You Need to Know
If you want to know what’s happening in Google Earth, what the community around the app is discussing, or need help with anything, this is the blog to go to. In fact, Google Earth Blog might be the only regularly updated website dedicated to Maps.
It’s kind of geeky at times, but that’s what you need if you’re interested in knowing more about the things that make Google Earth work. You’ll find updates about new features, new satellite images, and other cool data. Google Earth Blog also sometimes highlights geological news stories across the world, by showing them through the maps.
Through categories like basics, tips, sightseeing, and more, you’ll be able to find everything you need to know about Google Earth.
Show Us a Cool Google Earth or Maps Find
Browsing the sites above, did you come across a hilarious or weird thing on Google Maps?
Entertain us and other readers by linking it in a comment below.