In the mid-2000s, one of the coolest pieces of software to play around with was Google Earth. That experience is now coming to high-end virtual reality headsets with Google Earth VR. For the moment, it is available for free on Steam, but only for the HTC Vive.

The full Earth experience you’re familiar with in 2D is present in the virtual reality version of the app. VR allows for extremely varied perspectives during numerous times of the day. You can fly over any city, stand at the top of mountains, and even see the Earth from space.

While in VR, users will see a virtual stand-in for both of the Vive’s physical controller. The left shows a miniature globe that highlights the particular region you are currently in. With the right, users can pan around with a virtual pointer emitting from the controller to precisely pinpoint and navigate.

Google notes that the planet is a big place and Earth VR includes cinematic tours and hand-picked destinations, like the Amazon River, the Manhattan skyline, the Grand Canyon, and the Swiss Alps, among others. An overlay has tabs for featured places, tours, cities, nature, and saved locations.

It is available for free starting today on Steam for the HTC Vive. Earth VR will be coming to other platforms next year.


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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: