The virtual whole-Earth model that Google has been perfecting for over a decade has finally reached its next big step: Google Earth is now available in virtual reality. For the first time, users can walk through real city streets, fly through canyons and teleport to anywhere in the world all in an completely immersive VR experience.
Google Earth VR covers the entire 196.9 million square miles of the planet, so if you can’t decide where where to take your first virtual trip, Google has helpfully included cinematic tours and curated destinations through places like the Amazon River, downtown Manhattan, the Grand Canyon and the ruins of Rome. While there’s no Google Sky yet, you can still zoom out and fly through the edges of spaces as you look black on our virtual blue marble.
The initial release is free and available now on Steam, so users with compatible HTC Vive headsets can explore the red planet and the blue one without ever leaving their living room. According to the release notes, Google Earth will be coming to even more platforms (and presumably Google Daydream) sometime next year.