Google Earth VR Maps & Exploration

5-star rating
PCVR, Link
Education, Free, Travel
Comfortable, Stationary

Google Earth in virtual reality is an essential experience for anyone with a degree of curiosity. Spin the planet like it's your own personal giant blue marble, then dive into any destination of your choice. Visit famous landmarks, fly through the Grand Canyon or see your own backyard from an entirely unique perspective. You can even point your controller at the sky and move the sun.

Begin with the tutorial which whisks you around the world to view various landmarks before giving you an introduction to the straightforward controls. The app provides a comfort vignette that limits your field of view when moving to help avoid nausea, but this can be disabled once you have your VR sea-legs.

Some areas are highly detailed with high resolution imagery and intricate 3D modeling, whereas others are merely aerial images stretched over approximate terrain maps. Photogrammetry can also create strange artifacts and make trees look like stalks of broccoli. Regardless, the ability to visit almost any place on Earth in a matter of seconds is a wonder, and one that can consume hours of your time and widen your horizons.

Visiting St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

Google Earth VR also includes the Street View feature – allowing you to navigate around roads, trails as if your feet were firmly planted on the ground. Don't miss this extra dimension to the app. For example, we love taking virtual city tours by pairing the Street View experience with the free Rick Steves Audio Europe Travel App.

Regrettably, Google Earth VR is only available for those who can hook up their headset to a remotely powerful computer and is not available for the Meta Quest. In fact Google Earth VR is an app from 2016, created and since abandoned by the search engine monolith which then mothballed its VR departments a couple of years later. Despite this the program still works perfectly since it relies on mapping data and imagery that underpins their other mapping products.

Meta Quest users aren't entirely out of luck however. See our reviews of AnyWR, Wander and Wooorld for alternatives that offer some similar functionality.

Google Earth includes 3D models of all kinds.

✅ An essential experience with a unique perspective
✅ Almost limitless content
✅ Simple and intuitive controls
❌ Some areas of the world feature limited detail
❌ Not available for Meta Quest due to performance requirements

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