Although it doesn't offer the same level of functionality or search power as the PC version, the Google Earth app is a must-see for any citizen of the modern age. Students can enter locations and quickly maneuver across the globe, zooming in to show detail to the level of parked cars. The Lookaround option anchors you, limiting your view to tilting up, down, and 360 degrees. When Lookaround is off, the Pan mode (ironically named) allows users to explore freely across terrain by swiping. Zoom in by placing two fingers on the screen and moving them apart or by double-tapping with a single finger. Zoom out by placing two fingers on the screen and moving them together, or by double-tapping the screen with two fingers.
Students can examine the continental shelf or research landmarks via a quick-access menu with nearby iconic images. Searches fly them across the globe using time-delayed satellite images of Earth and overlaid icons that provide facts and services. Students also can take screenshots of Google Earth views that show data sources at the bottom. So, it's cool. But help and a tutorial, although they provide relatively clear explanations of the controls, don't cover much else. Regular users of the Google Earth PC version might be disappointed, as the app version has none of the same tools, views, or special databases, and only eight layers. Its default search database doesn't sport nearly the same depth. A new Earth Gallery feature, with special maps in seven categories, is buggy and doesn't display well on Android devices. Also, controls are not entirely intuitive and screen navigation can lead to selecting informational icons by accident. Load time can be slow depending on virtual altitude and connection speed, and image quality is occasionally poor. Icons can litter the display when all layers are selected.
Teachers can use Google Earth as a supplement to all kinds of lessons, bringing the geography and topography of different locations to life. Students can perform searches, zoom around the Earth, select layers, and submit eye-level photos served up courtesy of Panoramio. It's a highly engaging and interactive way to juice up lessons (when it works), and the Google Earth Community online has a plethora of user groups, teaching ideas, and classroom learning resources.