Google Maps is finally round.
The company is using a 3D version of the globe that will turn and change as you explore Earth, rather than the frequently controversial flat projections often used.
It means that if you zoom out far enough, the planet will turn into a globe, rather than the flat picture that has been used up until now.
It also means that you might have a slightly strange feeling when you first navigate around the site, feeling things twist and turn as you move them around in 3D. (You have to be zoomed out enough for it to feel different – once you are zoomed out enough to see countries, you will probably sense something is different, and when you are at the level of the planet it is entirely clear.)
The decision means that Google doesn’t need to endorse one way or another of making the map flat – an infamously charged decision. Each mapping company has to pick a specific “projection”, or a way of turning 3D globe into a 2D map.
Maps projections are a notoriously difficult choice, and many of them have infamous geopolitical assumptions contained within them. The projection used on Google Maps until now, for instance, privileges places towards the top of the map – meaning that the UK looks far bigger than it should when compared with Africa, for instance.
The Mirror suggested that Google's choice was a rebuke to flat-earthers and that the company had "thrown its support behind the round-Earth theory".
But though Google did not make clear why it had made the decision in its announcement, it suggested that it was so that it had no longer had to use a problematic projection. “With 3D Globe Mode on Google Maps desktop, Greenland's projection is no longer the size of Africa,” the company tweeted.
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