Google Earth VR Now Officially Supports Oculus Rift With Touch, Adds Quick Search

by Joe Durbin • April 18th, 2017

Today, Google is announcing that one of its most exciting products, Google Earth VR, will now be usable with the Oculus Rift and Touch controllers.

Earth VR originally launched on Steam in November, 2016 where, for the past five months, it has only officially been usable with an HTC Vive VR system. Rift owners that tried to launch Earth VR through Steam were greeted with a message informing them that the content would not function on their hardware.


Despite this, a relatively simple workaround was discovered within hours of Earth VR’s release. Through a few alterations to the program’s source files, a user could remove the Vive check and run Earth VR on the Rift. The experience reportedly functioned just fine; without the check, Steam VR integrated the experience with Rift just like any other experience.

We asked Google why it took five months to polish and release a port that the general public was able to jerry rig in less than a day.

The company’s official position is that HTC was the first company to provide a dev kit that featured the six-degrees-of-freedom, positionally tracked controllers that Earth VR requires to function properly. Google emphasizes its commitment to ensuring that its software runs perfectly on every new piece of hardware and maintains that this release structure was a result of R&D timetables rather than any sort of monetary exclusivity agreement.

According to Google:

Google Earth VR gives you the opportunity to easily explore the world and discover new places. We made sure that navigating the planet in Earth VR on Rift with Touch feels natural, comfortable, and immersive, so that even more people can fly over cities and stand on top of mountains in VR. We thought a lot about the button mapping to make sure it was intuitive and took advantage of the Touch controllers’ precise analog sticks, which are a great fit for the way you move around in Earth VR.

Rift support is not the only feature being added to Earth VR today.


A new search feature will allow users to simply type in an address and visit the location of their dreams. This will be especially helpful for those that struggle with directions and don’t like being laughed at by friends as we they struggle to locate our  their homes or places of business in a timely manner (I was taking the scenic route!).


Lastly, Google is adding 27 new locations to Earth VR including Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, Table Mountain in South Africa, Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina, Mt Lassen in California, Palermo in Italy, and more.

Google Earth VR is available today for free on Steam and, for the first time ever, Oculus Home.

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What's your reaction?
  • Mermado 1936

    Fuck Oculus

    • jake2769

      You really told those bad people at Oculus, didn’t you?
      It’s concise comments like yours that really move a discussion forward in a positive way.

      • Jason Lovegren

        I don’t understand why they even put down oculus. John Carmack!!!!! / Always saying it’s owned by Facebook (Well Facebook has some serious deep pockets. They plan on spending yet another 3 billion in the next 3 years… Holy cow!!!) They had better tracking but honestly I don’t see a difference. We have a better sweet spot and timewarp future proofs the games a bit. Don’t get me wrong vive is also awesome, but I don’t regret my choice for a second. I’m sure someone will mention Fallout VR (Hmmmm Re-rift to the rescue maybe) But vive owners can’t deny oculus content, hence why their always complaining about re-vive or using re-vive. It just makes me laugh that console wars is still a real thing. Sega Genesis for the win lol!!!!

        • Mermado 1936

          Oculus simply is for almost every user of Vive NOT a posibility… for me not matter what Oculus say or do, im not going to buy an Oculus never and like me theres a lot of people…

          I can buy HTC, LG, Pimax… but no Oculus… thats why Oculus is 200 $ cheaper and no one cares about it.

          • FUBilderburg

            Was that supposed to be a coherent argument?

          • Jason Lovegren

            Content is hands down awesome on Oculus!!!! 3 more!! games coming out this month (Wilson’s heart (Oculus exclusive) Rick and Morty, and Batman. They just gave us google earth FB app, face your fears, totally free. The FB app is awesome so far. You’re argument includes “Fuck Oculus” which has no impact at all!!! I’m assuming since your on board with every other VR HMD means you don’t have VR at all. Not too mention they are working on inside out tracking for their glove controllers. This means the gloves won’t need contelation, they will track themselves. My biggest sell point over Vive is the space warp. (45 fps is all we need and it feels great) With my gtx 1080 ti at 3.0 supersampling all my games look great with very sharp visuals. It feels like 4k.

        • CrazyMac10

          I love my Oculus also, no regrets.

  • fredericsidler

    I want it for GearVR 😉

  • Trooper

    and what about the 7.1 support ? Or do I need to disable my headset just to launch it still ?

  • Keith Burrill

    This doesn’t sound like a “brand new” Google Earth experience like they promised us 🙁

  • Graham J ⭐️

    Yay for search support, though it’s a missed opportunity to use drum typing.

    I’m not sure why Google mentioned 6 DOF as a reason and not the fact that the Rift did not have motion controllers on the market when GEVR was released.

  • I love the new street view feature but I wish Google had added 360 videos from Youtube.
    So I went ahead and created Travel VR app which does that. You can fly around the world but unlike Google Earth VR, you see a handpicked 360 video of that place instead.
    You can download it for free on the app store today. Over 20,000 people have downloaded the app on Oculus Rift and Vive.