Satellite views of the Abu Dhabi coastline and other UAE sites are among those featured in the latest version of Google Earth, launched this week.
The new features of the programme allow users to explore and learn about places and landscapes. Some famous sites, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, can be viewed in 3D.
Users can also share virtual postcards of views and take 50 “guided tours” as part of the Voyager feature.
A virtual tour of the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah is available through Voyager, while Al Quoz industrial area in Dubai was listed in the feature Ultradistancia: Cities, created by Argentinian artist Federico Winer, who uses imagery from Google Earth and adds colour using photo-editing software.
“The geometry of this industrial area resembles a circuit or microchip from above,” Winer said. “The form I found there seemed like a natural love letter to technology.”
Storytellers, scientists and non-profit organisations collaborated on the Voyager feature, which allows users to discover cities, islands, mountains and jungles. Nasa, the BBC, Sesame Street and wildlife organisations are among those who helped to curate the virtual tours.
In the Reading The ABC’s From Space feature compiled by Nasa, the letter “T” appears near Madinat Zayed in Abu Dhabi. It was among the views resembling letters captured by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 satellite, operated by Nasa.
The waters off Yas Island were featured in the Earth Views section of the programme, which comprises some of the world’s most beautiful satellite images.
The new version of the product was two years in the making, said Gopal Shah, Google Earth product manager, on the tech company’s website.
“We want to open up different lenses for you to see the world and learn a bit about how it all fits together,” he said.
A technology expert in the UAE said it had been challenging for the programme to keep the public’s interest.
“It’s interesting to see the developments with Google Earth,” said Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer at Jacky’s Retail.
“The challenge with Google Earth has always been how to keep it relevant and while it is fun in the beginning, it has always been a challenge to maintain interest once the novelty had worn off.
“Some of the changes, including that of the Sesame Street characters and 3-D elements, help make it more interesting for the core education segments.”
A feature called I’m Feeling Lucky, which directs users to random locations, was added.
The new Google Earth is available in the company’s Chrome web browser or on Android phones. It will be available on other browsers and Apple mobile software in the future.