Google Earth now lets you measure distances and areas

Only a few years ago, Google Earth was the only practical way to see all of Google’s satellite and 3D imagery. These days,Google Maps pretty much offers all of the mapping features that casual users need, but Google continues to quietly develop Earth and today, the company announced it is adding an area measurement tool to the service on the web (today), Android(later this week) and iOS (“coming soon”).

Now that’s obviously not an earth-shattering new feature, especially given that you have long been able to measure distance with a virtual ruler in Google Maps, too. But the addition of a feature for measuring area seems useful, especially for students.

As is so often the case, more than anything, the launch of this new feature is a reminder of how much overlap there often is between Google products — and not just in the chat app category. Indeed, seeing this announcement was the first time I thought about Google Earth in years, I think.

And while Google Earth has a few features that Maps doesn’t currently offer, including tours, for the most part, there doesn’t really seem to be a need for the web and mobile versions of Earth these days. And why is Google adding an area measurement tool to Earth, but not to Maps?


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