Launched back in 2013, Google Earth Timelapse has been an interesting way to look at how our planet has changed over the years. Today, an update to the tool has extended support to mobile, added more years, and given the entire thing a redesign with Material theming.

First and foremost, today’s  update to Google Earth Timelapse brings the powerful tool to smartphones and tablets. Google says that Timelapse couldn’t be added before now, as mobile browsers including its own Chrome browser disabled auto-playing videos, the critical functionality that makes Timelapse work.

Now that Chrome and Firefox have enabled auto-playing videos on mobile devices (with sound disabled, thank goodness), Google Earth Timelapse can now work properly on smartphones and tablets.

Up until recently, mobile browsers disabled the ability to autoplay videos, which is critical for Timelapse (since it’s made up of tens of millions of multi-resolution, overlapping videos). Chrome and Firefox reinstated support for autoplay (with sound muted), so we’ve added mobile support with this latest update.

google earth timelapse pixel 3

Google Earth Timelapse on a Pixel 3

Further, Google is making some other notable changes to Google Earth Timelapse. For one, the company has added two more years worth of data to the product’s library. Now, users can see how any part of the planet has changed between 1984 and 2018. There’s also a fresh Material Design look that’s been added to Google Earth Timelapse.

The design of the new Timelapse interface leverages Material Design with simple, clean lines and clear focal areas, so you can easily navigate the immense dataset. We contributed this new user interface to the open-source Time Machine project, used by Carnegie Mellon and others.

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Ben Schoon

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