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Google Earth relaunches with new storytelling and exploration features

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Google is introducing today an updated version of its Google Earth service with new features designed to make it more social and interactive.

The company has a splashy launch event planned this morning at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art in New York City that’s aimed at highlighting the media partnerships it has struck to leverage the new features in Google Earth.

Chief among them is “Voyager,” an expanded, interactive guided tour feature that offers specialized stories created with “some of the world’s leading storytellers, scientists and nonprofits to bring the planet to life with…a showcase of interactive guided tours,” wrote Gopal Shah, Google Earth product manager, in a blog post.

These include such tours as “Natural Treasures,” a collaboration with BBC Earth that takes viewers through a series of habitats to explore the different wildlife found there. There’s also a tour of Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, narrated by Jane Goodall. Google said there are now more than 50 stories in Voyager and that it plans to add more each week.

The company has also brought in a version of its search engine’s “I’m feeling lucky” feature. Now, when a user clicks on that button in Google Earth, it will take them to one of 20,000 random destinations that were curated by Google staff.

Finally, a new 3D button will allow users to see a site from any angle. If a user wants to share it, they can send the view as a postcard to someone else.

These new features are available today for Google Chrome browser and Android users. The company says it will bring them to other platforms later this year.

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