When Google first launched Google Earth, it was a novelty that not everyone could gain access to at the time, computers with the sort of graphical power – not to mention connection speed needed – weren't all that common at the time. Fast forward to today, however, and we can access Google Earth from whatever device we choose, with the majority of smartphones and computers able to render such 3D graphics without any issues whatsoever. We can even access Google Earth from the web if we want to. Since then, however, the novelty surrounding such a program seems to have worn off. Sure to reignite our original fascination with Google Earth is Google Earth VR, which Google has announced and released for the HTC Vive today.
Much as one might imagine, Google Earth VR is pretty much the same sort of content, but it puts you at the center of it all, and with the motion controllers that the Vive ships with, users can interact with the environment in an intuitive and simple manner. Users can sling their way across great distances similarly to how Spider-Man would get around New York City, and users can cruise above the Alps as if they were flying, with a brake button on hand to slow it all down. With almost 200 Million square miles to explore, there's no shortage of things to look at and admire when using Google Earth VR. As an extension of their Expeditions program – which is now heading across the pond to the UK – Google Earth VR has major potential for education, and sports a level of immersion few other apps can compete with.
Similar to the way that Google is releasing Tilt Brush, they're doing so on the HTC Vive first, presumably due to the fact that the Vive, as well as the computers that can support the headset, have a lot more horsepower than out smartphones. Whether or not this is to trickle down to Daydream compatible smartphones is unclear, but considering that Google Street View is supported by Daydream, there's a reason to be hopeful. Those with an HTC Vive to hand can go ahead and download Google Earth VR from Steam, and there's a short video below to make the rest of us feel thoroughly jealous.