The Google Earth VR app has finally launched on the HTC Vive as a freebie and it’s quite an impressive feat of engineering. Google has been working on completing their Earth model for more than a decade and bringing it to VR is the next step in their plan. Now, users can actually walk through the streets of various cities, visit famous landmarks, fly over mountains and through canyons and change their location with a click of a button.
How Does Google Earth VR App Work?
The Google Earth VR apps includes all 196.9 million square miles of our planet, which means you have plenty to choose from. The system requires you to change location using the HTC Vive virtual reality wand. You can use it to spin the Earth, zoom in, search for specific locations and then “teleport” there.
You can either view everything from the top like a bird, or, once you zoom in closer, you can switch to a more level perspective and, of course, you can position yourself so you are seeing everything around you as if you were actually standing there.
And you don’t have to worry about motion sickness because Google Earth VR incorporates some smart ideas so that you feel comfortable while zooming past the environment. Instead of transforming or scaling your location in “full-screen”, the perspective shrinks to a small periscope view until the transformation has stopped. In other words, you won’t feel like you’re moments away from bringing up your lunch.
The app comes with a series of pre-programmed coordinates that will make life easier for new users. Some are organized into tours with specific themes, like parks or water, which are really cool. However, if you want to go to a specific location, you can only navigate via the wand, which can be annoying since there’s no option to type in an address or specific coordinates.
The Reality of Google Earth VR
Without a doubt, Google Earth VR is extremely impressive. It’s probably one of the most impressive systems available for virtual reality. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have issues.
For example, some geometry appears slightly off – as in a bit fuzzy and almost squished. Also, the best renders are of Western, especially American, cities, whereas much of the non-Western world doesn’t have that high a level of detail.
Despite its drawbacks, Google Earth VR is still amazing and can provide hours upon hours of fun. And seeing as Google is always working on improving their products, we’re certain it won’t be long before they fix any issues.