Google Earth has a hidden feature within the version of the application that runs on Android devices, capable of displaying old maps of some regions of the world. The tool is identical to one that exists in the desktop version of the program, which is called Google Earth Pro – it is free, even with this suffix.
Over time, many features of Google Earth migrate to Google Maps, such as 3D buildings and the tool to measure distance in a straight line, similar to the work of a ruler on paper and even ignoring any elevation of the ground. Others remain in the most complete app, or are tested there before appearing openly.
This is the case of an overlapping layer just above the satellite images for the maps with photographs, present in practically the entire planet. The function of this feature is to show an old map of the area, perfectly fitted to the design of the current streets, making the experience close to a kind of time machine.
A developer named Kyler found this tool within the Google Earth app for Android, after making some adjustments to activate experimental features that even involve the root of the smartphone or tablet. The map found shows a part of San Francisco, in the United States, with the map of the 1938 region.
In addition to this date, other periods are displayed in a timeline almost identical to the same resource for captures from other years within Street View. In the case of the map, it is possible to choose images from 1946, 1985, 1987, 1993 and more recent years like 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004 and so on. At a certain point, it is even possible to choose catch information from the search giant’s own service.
It is not clear whether this feature for old maps in Google Earth is being tested, or even if the search giant plans to release the function for all users of its Android or iOS app.
You can see old maps in Google Earth now
If you were curious to see old maps of your region, please be aware that the Google Earth desktop program already offers this feature – it has been doing this even for some time. The tool is only available in the downloaded and installed version, not the one that opens even in browsers.
The button to activate the historical maps is available right away, at the top of the program interface and has a clock-shaped design rotating counterclockwise.
In São Paulo, for example, it is possible to access a map of the entire metropolitan region, which is dated 1984, with several intervals that are basically annual and that go on until the most recent one, this year. The same start is available in major cities such as Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasília.
Traveling to the United States, New York City offers a 1978 map, with a less detailed one from 1985. San Francisco has exactly the same images found by the developer within the Android application, starting in 1938, then in 1946, for then 1985, 1993 and several years from the year 2000.
A region with a lot of change for the tool is Las Vegas, which has the first map of just a small portion of the city in 1950, where there was no building, street or home. To then follow the urban and hotel growth in the following decades.
The city of Las Vegas can be followed even in a timelapse of Google Earth itself, in this link. A few locations are also available, such as deforestation in the state of Rondônia, or the retreat of ice in an Alaskan region.
With information: 9to5Google and Android Police.