Google Earth is preparing a neat Time Machine feature that shows you the past

Google Earth is preparing a neat Time Machine feature that shows you the past

If you’ve ever used the desktop version of Google Earth (not the web version but rather the computer program, currently known as Google Earth Pro), you would know it has a whole lot of features that the web and mobile counterparts still lack. After all, it did get simplified while being adapted to both web browsers and Android/iOS devices. You could dismiss most of those “lost” features as just gimmicks, but one gimmick I really miss on the modern versions of Google Earth was how you could actually wind back in time and check out old satellite imagery from years past. That feature might be coming soon, at least to the Android version of the app.


Currently, the feature is available inside the app as an “experimental preference”, app flags that are hidden away. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way a normal user can access this feature currently. Still, if you are really keen on trying it out and you have a rooted phone, you can try toggling the experimental preferences menu by either manually modifying the app’s preferences file with a root explorer or preferences editing app or by trying your luck with some Termux commands. You can check out a more detailed explanation right here.

As for how well the feature works? Well, it manages to show aerial imagery from all the way back to the 1930s and 1940s, at least in San Francisco. It also has a cool “timelapse” feature that shows how the area has evolved and changed through the years, looking back from those aerial images. I also managed to try it out myself and found it pretty mesmerizing. However, the lack of detailed satellite imagery for some places, particularly those outside the U.S, can somewhat ruin the experience (although this is not the app’s fault as it just displays whatever imagery Google stores on their servers). In contrast, in other places, it may struggle to load maps. It’s still a pretty fun tool to waste your time with, nonetheless. We don’t know when this feature would roll out to the app officially, but given how it needs some fine-tuning, it may take a little while longer.

Google Earth
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

About author

Arol Wright
Arol Wright

Diehard technology enthusiast, and an Android purist by nature. While I have a soft spot for smartphones, I'm deeply interested in everything techy, be it PCs, gaming consoles, gadgets, you name it.

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