Travelers can now get a taste of destinations they’re planning to visit one day — or just take a virtual vacation — with Google’s new updated version of Google Earth.
With the revamped Google Earth, now available online and soon to be rolled out on smartphone apps, users can explore the world in 3-D while learning new information about destinations both familiar and unknown.
The website and app partnered with organizations such as the BBC’s “Planet Earth” series and conservation non-profit the Jane Goodall Institute to bring users stories and video on natural and cultural wonders around the world.
“We wanted to make it more accessible for a wider audience,” Google engineer Sean Askay told reporters at a press preview in New York City Tuesday.
If a user searches for a specific destination, such as Paris for example, they can then explore sample walking itineraries in neighborhoods, learn more about the history of landmarks, and see 3-D imagery of popular attractions and streets.
If they click on a blue circle, users can access street view to see panoramic shots that other visitors have uploaded at that spot. Google has also created specific guided tours in different cities, such as a look at Ernest Hemingway’s watering holes in Paris.
The new Google Earth even has features that allow travelers to discover places they may never be able to visit in their lifetimes, such as Pyongyang, North Korea, or parts of Syria. With the expanded version of streetview, users are able to stand in a North Korean stadium and see a full panoramic view, complete with a portrait of Kim Jong-un.
The goal of the project is to “infuse the globe with everything we know about the world,” Askay said.