New Google Earth for Android 2.1+

When was launched Google Earth in 2005, most of us were still using flip phones. At the time, the thought of being able to cart around 197 million square miles of Earth in your pocket was still a distant dream. Last year, that dream came to fruition for Android users when Google released Google Earth for Android. With the recent release of tablets based on Android 3.0, we wanted to take full advantage of the large screens and powerful processors that this exciting new breed of tablets had to offer.

Today’s update to Google Earth for Android makes Earth look better than ever on your tablet. We’ve added support for fully textured 3D buildings, so your tour through the streets of Manhattan will look more realistic than ever. There’s also a new action bar up top, enabling easier access to search, the option to “fly to your location” and layers such as Places, Panoramio photos, Wikipedia and 3D buildings.

Moving from a mobile phone to a tablet was like going from a regular movie theatre to IMAX. We took advantage of the larger screen size, including features like content pop-ups appearing within Earth view, so you can see more information without switching back and forth between pages.

One of my favorite buildings to fly around in Google Earth has always been the Colosseum in Rome, Italy:

With the larger tablet screen, I can fly around the 3D Colosseum while also browsing user photos from Panoramio. The photos pop up within the imagery so I can interact with them without losing sight of the Colosseum and its surroundings. Also, by clicking on the layer button on the action bar, I can choose which layers I want to browse.

This version is available for devices with Android 2.1 and above. The new tablet design is available for devices with Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) and above. Please visit the Google Earth help center for more information.

To download or update Google Earth, head to in your device’s browser or visit Android Market. Enjoy a whole new world of Google Earth for tablets!

Shaker Village in Google Earth

GEB reader ‘Matthew’ recently sent us a very impressive recreation of the Mt. Lebanon North Family Shaker Village in New Lebanon, NY, which is often considered to be the birthplace of Shakerism in the United States.

As you can see in the image below, their work includes not only some excellent 3D models, but other details such as information about their complex water systems:


To fill in the full story, Matthew has written up more details about how it all came together. Watch the video below for an overview, and then read Matthew’s words below that for detailed information.

In 2009, two of the National Park Service’s Heritage Documentation Programs (the Historic American Landscapes Survey and Cultural Resources GIS) worked to document the Mt Lebanon North Family Shaker Village in New Lebanon, NY. The site is owned and operated by the Shaker Museum and Library and is perhaps best known as the birthplace of Shakerism in the USA.

A team lived on the site through the Summer, working to create detailed measured drawings of landscape features, with an emphasis on documenting the complex waterworks system at the site. The Shakers constructed a series of underground aqueducts, reservoirs, and piping to aid in numerous agricultural, industrial, and domestic tasks.

However, little was known about how the system operated or where many of these underground features were located. To make it worse, one of the main buildings experienced repeated damage from flooding cause by heavy rains which seemed to mysteriously flow in from unknown sources. Thanks to the work of the Summer team, many issues like this one have since been resolved.

The National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey first documented and photographed the site around 1930. This time around, new images were developed by National Park Service photographers using both large format black-and-white photos as well as detailed panoramic images.

Cultural Resources GIS staff utilized georeferenced maps, GPS data, and detailed 3D models of the village to produce this tour of the site which explains some of the mechanisms of the water system.

These models are now part of the official 3D buildings layer, and you can find them all in the Google 3D Warehouse. Additionally, a KMZ was developed which allows users to interact with landscape plans, historic and modern photos, and GIS overlays. Clicking on some of the historic photos and drawings will link you to the documentation archived at the Library of Congress.

Have Androids. Will Travel.

From c-base in Berlin to the Ice Bar in Stockholm, from four courses of pasta in Florence to beer and pretzels in Munich, and from balalikas in Moscow to metal cage mind puzzles in Prague – one common theme was the enthusiasm and quality of the Android developers in attendance. You guys are epic.

For those of you who couldn’t join us, we’re in the middle of posting all the sessions we presented during this most recent world tour. Stand by for links.

Droidcon UK

We kicked off our conference season at Droidcon UK, an Android extravaganza consisting of a bar camp on day 1 and formal sessions on day 2. It was the perfect place for the Android developer relations team to get together and kick off three straight weeks of Google Developer Days, GTUG Hackathons, and Android Developer Labs.

Android Developer Labs

The first of our Android Developer Labs was a return to Berlin: home to c-base (a place we never got tired of) and the Beuth Hochschule für Technik Berlin. This all day event cost me my voice, but attracted nearly 300 developers (including six teams who battled it out to win a Lego Mindstorm for best app built on the day.)

Next stop was Florence which played host to our first Italian ADL after some fierce campaigning by local Android developers. 160 developers from all over Italy joined us in beautiful Florence where the Firenze GTUG could not have been more welcoming. An afternoon spent with eager developers followed up by an evening of real Italian pasta – what’s not to love?

From the warmth of Florence to the snow of Stockholm where we joined the Stockholm GTUG for a special Android themed event at Bwin Games. After a brief introduction we split into six breakout sessions before the attendees got down to some serious hacking to decide who got to bring home the Mindstorm kit.

Google Developer Days

The Google Developer Days are always a highlight on my conference schedule, and this year’s events were no exception. It’s a unique opportunity for us to meet with a huge number of talented developers – over 3,000 in Europe alone. Each event featured a dedicated Android track with six sessions designed to help Android developers improve their skills.

It was our first time in Munich where we played host to 1200 developers from all over Germany. If there was any doubt we’d come to the right place, the hosting of the Blinkendroid Guinness World Record during the after-party soon dispelled it.

Moscow and Prague are always incredible places to visit. The enthusiasm of the nearly 2,500 people who attended is the reason we do events like these. You can watch the video for every Android session from the Prague event and check out the slides for each of the Russian sessions too.

GTUG Hackathons

With everyone in town for the GDDs we wanted to make the most it. Working closely with the local GTUGs, the Android and Chrome teams held all-day hackathon bootcamps in each city the day before the big event.

It was a smaller crowd in Moscow, but that just made the competition all the more fierce. So much so that we had to create a new Android app just for the purpose of measuring the relative volume of applause in order to choose a winner.

If a picture is a thousand words, this video of the Prague Hackathon in 85 seconds will describe the event far better than I ever could. What the video doesn’t show is that the winners of “best app of the day” in Prague had never developed for Android before.

In each city we were blown away by the enthusiasm and skill on display. With so many talented, passionate developers working on Android it’s hard not to be excited by what we’ll find on the Android Market next. In the mean time, keep coding; we hope to be in your part of the world soon.

On To South America

[Thanks, Reto. This is Tim again. The South American leg actually happened before the Eurotour, but Reto got his writing done first, so I’ll follow up here.]

We did more or less the same set of things in South America immediately before Reto’s posse fanned out across Europe. Our events were in São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Santiago; we were trying to teach people about Android and I hope we succeeded. On the other hand, I know that we learned lots of things. Here are a few of them:

  • Wherever we went, we saw strange (to us) new Android devices. Here’s a picture of a Brazilian flavor of the Samsung Galaxy S, which comes with a fold-out antenna and can get digital TV off the air. If you’re inside you might need to be near a window, but the picture quality is fantastic.
  • There’s a conventional wisdom about putting on free events: Of the people who register, only a certain percentage will show up. When it comes to Android events in South America, the certain-percentage part is wrong. As a result, we dealt with overcrowded rooms and overflow arrangements all over the place. I suppose this is a nice problem to have, but we still feel sorry about some of the people who ended up being overcrowded and overflowed.
  • Brazilians laugh at themselves, saying they’re always late. (Mind you, I’ve heard Indians and Jews and Irish people poke the same fun at themselves, so I suspect lateness may be part of the human condition). Anyhow, Brazilians are not late for Android events; when we showed up at the venue in the grey light of dawn to start setting up, they were already waiting outside.
  • I enjoyed doing the hands-on Android-101 workshops (I’ve included a picture of one), but I’m not sure Googlers need to be doing any more of those. Wherever you go, there’s now a community of savvy developers who can teach each other through the finer points of getting the SDK installed and working and “Hello World” running.

  • Brazil and Argentina and Chile aren’t really like each other. But each has its own scruffy-open-source-geek contingent that likes to get together, and Android events are a good opportunity. I felt totally at home drinking coffee with these people and talking about programming languages and screen densities and so on, even when we had to struggle our way across language barriers.

The people were so, so, warm-hearted and welcoming and not shy in the slightest and I can’t think about our tour without smiling. A big thank-you to all the South-American geeks and hackers and startup cowboys; we owe you a return visit.