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Google's updated Earth app will destroy your free time

Daniel Howley

A new version of Google Earth is here, and it will destroy your productivity for the rest of the week. So you might as well just set aside any notions of finishing your big work project before the weekend.

The update not only makes it easier to navigate Earth, but also adds a number of additional layers to the service including videos from BBC’s nature documentaries, educational segments from “Sesame Street” and more, all tied to exploring different parts of the world.

On the left side of the Earth web app, you’ll find a new Voyager button shaped like a ship’s wheel. Clicking Voyager sends you down a rabbit hole unseen since the last time you started trolling Wikipedia to settle an argument with a friend about who played RoboCop, and ended with you sitting at your computer at 3 a.m. reading about how tin cans are made.

Voyager is broken up into five categories: Editor’s Picks, Travel, Nature, Culture and History. Editor’s Picks include, well, picks from the Google (GOOG, GOOGL) Earth team, while Travel provides you with a look at some of the world’s hottest tourist spots. Nature gives you a look at the world’s natural wonders and includes dozens of video clips from BBC’s nature shows like “Planet Earth 2” and media giant’s extensive archives.

The Culture category includes information about how people around the world live their daily lives complete with videos from “Sesame Street.” Finally, there’s the History section that provides you with a view of historic landmarks.

Each section will absolutely devour your free time. And then there are satellite images taken by NASA that will blow you away.

Google also rolled its I’m Feeling Lucky random search option into Earth. Click the dice icon and you’ll be taken anywhere in the world.

To make the Earth experience more educational, Google added information cards to the service. Anytime you look up a city or region, Earth will pull up a card populated by information from Wikipedia about the location.

If you’re planning a vacation, you can also use the My Places tab on the right side of the app’s screen to save your favorite locales around the world.

The best part of the updated app, though, is the inclusion of Street View. You can now zoom in on a spot on the Earth from space. Then drag the Street View Peg Man onto the point you want to view, and you’ll drop down to street level.

Oh, and the update finally brings Earth to web browsers, which means you no longer have to download an app to your desktop (you’ll still need to use an app for your smartphone).

The new version of Google Earth is available through your browser now. Google says it will finish rolling out its Earth app for Android by the end of the week and debut an iOS version in the future.

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Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.