The title should really read Sweeeeet – with a lot of extra eeee’s. Because Google Earth’s latest update incorporates an incredibly tasty feature.
Called Tour Guide, the feature provides guided excursions to and through a wide variety of geographic places, both famous and obscure. There are over 100,000 tours in 200 countries with more than 1,000,000 photos now available – from flying tours of the Roman Coliseum to Dodge City’s Boot Hill.
It will display interesting places, even if you didn’t know to search for them. Thumbnails of available pre-created tours will update automatically with interesting locations near your current view. Click the thumbnail image to start a tour or to fly to a point of interest. Flying tours are marked with a tour time in the lower right hand corner of the tour thumbnail.
Where available, the tours and points of interest include 3D models (be sure to turn the 3D Buildings layer on) for the most realistic experience possible. Information from Wikipedia also provides more information on famous sites, so you can learn more about the places that interest you as your virtually fly over them. The tour guide also includes user-contributed Picasa and Panoramio photos as thumbnails for a preview of the featured location.
Tour Guide is on by default. To turn it off, simply toggle it off in View > Tour Guide.
We’ve always used Google Earth to give kids a geographic sense of place, to help them connect events and people with place. The Guided Tour feature gives you one more tool in your tool belt to help make these connections.