Google Earth is a program that creates a 3D model of Earth composed from millions of satellite and ground camera photos, giving users the ability to explore the world from the comfort of their homes – from the air or by "walking" down streets. Google Earth can be accessed through the Chrome browser on laptop and desktop computers and can be used on Android and iOS smart phones as well. A downloadable version of the program called Google Earth Pro is also available for computers and can run on both Mac and Windows machines.
Is Google Earth Live?
Contrary to popular belief, Google Earth does not feature real-time visuals. Google Earth's images are updated frequently – collected from a number of providers and platforms in order to provide as recent a view as possible, but you can't view live Google Earth footage as it's taken. This is because Google Earth's footage is captured not by Google alone, but by a wide variety of providers, none of whom have access to 24/7, high-quality video feeds on a global scale. If you would like to determine when a Google Earth image was taken, examine the copyright information provided in the corner or bottom of the view window, depending on your version of Google Earth.
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Exploring With Street View
While Google Earth's visual data may not be collected through live video feeds, you can still use Google Earth to explore the world as a tourist on the ground. This is accomplished using the Street View function. To use it, tap or click the person-shaped icon on the side of the screen (in Google Earth Pro, you may need to zoom in for the icon to appear, and then drag it to a point). You'll then be able to explore streets and other areas freely, though Google Earth doesn't have complete coverage of the world.
Exploring With Earth Voyager
In an effort to share more of the world with its users, Google Earth has a relatively new function known as "Voyager." By clicking or tapping the wheel-with-spokes icon on the border of the screen, you can select one of a number of guided tours. These tours range from architectural tourist trips to curated lessons on rare animal species – sometimes linked to video clips and other media, including live video feeds of specific areas. These voyages are the closest Google Earth has come to providing live video feeds at present.