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Google Earth 5 review

The Google Earth 5 beta adds oceans, Martian terrain and a time machine

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Our Verdict

Now with Oceans and Mars mapped out its even harder to stop yourself from virtually travelling around the globe and beyond. It just makes us think where Google will take us next?

For

  • Includes Oceans and Mars
  • Hours of exploration fun

Against

  • Not very intuitive controls
  • Keyword search not brilliant

Navigating Google Earth can seem unwieldy at times, but the process of clicking and dragging quickly becomes intuitive.

However, the fastest way to find places is still entering a name into the text search field, which causes the 3D sphere to spin, pan and zoom until the area is centralised on your screen.

But this method does have its problems. For example, search for 'Ground Zero' and the top hit is a company with a similar name in North Manhattan – not what you'd expect from an industry-leading search company.

As new features go, the Ocean mode is only likely to absorb your attention for a relatively short period. It's very blue, and very barren. The various links are often insightful, but we'd prefer 3D models of shipwrecks and coral formations to small white icons.

Mars is similarly gimmicky. There's only so much time that you can spend staring in wonder at a lifeless extraterrestrial wasteland. Google Earth remains fascinating, however, and it's near limitless in scope. You owe it to yourself to visit.