Google to shut down the Expeditions app but plans to add VR tours to Arts & Culture
Google on Friday announced plans to shut down the Expeditions app, and instead fold the experience into the company’s Arts & Culture experience. Expeditions will be removed from Google Play and the iOS App Store on June 30, 2021.
When it launched in limited access in 2015, Google Expeditions allowed students to explore “far-away places, travel back in time or learn about cultures unlike their own” — all in VR. It was a more immersive way to learn about subjects compared to flipping through a book, innovating the way students learn.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to last.
Engaging students in the classroom has taken on an entirely different meaning this year. As schools around the world reimagine education from the ground up for a hybrid world, we’ve also been thinking deeply about how to adjust our tools to meet the moment and simultaneously build for the future.
On top of educators moving to hybrid learning programs, Google acknowledged that VR isn’t accessible to everyone. That’s why the company is turning to Arts & Culture, a free initiative that allows users to take 360 degree tours of museums, heritage sites and wonders of the world. Google said “most” Expeditions will be included in Arts & Culture once the changes take place.
Google called the changes a “product evolution” of Arts & Culture, and is the first step toward bridging the accessibility gap to providing everyone with a culturally enriching experience.
If you’re unfamiliar with Google Arts & Culture, the platform provides access to collections on Natural History, Black History and Culture, the road to equality for women’s rights, and more. In addition to simple 360 degree tours in the browser, Arts & Culture supports augmented reality, allowing students to project 3D models of exhibits into the real world.