The Chrome browser is an ever-changing window into the internet, but the browser itself can look kind of… well… bland, sometimes. Lots of white. Well, Google seems to have noticed, or at least the Google Maps team has, and they released an extension to help mix it up a little.
Enter Earth View from Google Maps.
Earth View doesn't do a lot, but what it does is simple, elegant, and breathtaking. It takes the traditional new tab page and replaces it with a random view of somewhere on Earth from Google Maps. If you're interested in that location, you can click the Globe in the bottom-right corner in order to go to it in Google Maps.
And it is beautiful most times. It's a wonderful way to jazz it up… but I need the control bar in the top right corners. I need my quick links to Google services and the unread counter. I need 'em. I use it almost every time I even open a new tab. I can live without the eight squares in the middle, but I need that bar at the top.
Also, you can tell this is an early incarnation because sometimes that 'random view' gets stuck, and you're just looking at one field in France or a desolate Canadian island for tabs and tabs and tabs. So, there's obviously room for improvement, but it's a start, and I'm interested to see where it goes.
This is a wonderful way to jazz up what is normally a pretty bland part of the browser, and this should come standard on Chrome for Education computers because it is both beautiful and gets kids interested/excited about geography and other countries/cultures. But we need to bring back at least some of the functionality of the regular new tab screen.