Someone got Google Earth Timelapse to work on the Android app, but try at your own risk

Google Earth
Google Earth (Image credit: Google)

What you need to know

  • A developer managed to activate the timelapse feature on the Google Earth app.
  • The feature has already been available on the web version of Google Earth.
  • Users interested in activating the feature will need to root their smartphones.

Google Earth launched a neat timelapse feature in 2016 that allows viewers to peer into the past using collected satellite imagery. Using more than 5 million images, Google Earth shifts from the past to the present, providing a unique look at our planet from as far back as 1984. When it launched, the feature was made available on the web and mobile browsers. The mobile app, which is available even on the best cheap Android phones like the Moto G Power, did not get the same love the feature has not officially rolled out. Still, a developer reportedly managed to get it working.

A developer by the name of Kyler brought his effort to the attention of Android Police. Apparently, the feature has been hidden within the Android app, and he managed to activate it through some experimental settings.

As seen in the image, the feature appears to be fairly fleshed out, so it's unclear why Google hasn't enabled it within the app. The app's interface also differs from that of the browser version, with a slider and arrow buttons to let you sift through different years. It also appears to let users get a closer top-view look at cities with a much clearer image while also showing what appears to be San Francisco in 1938, much farther back than what the Timelapse feature can achieve now. There's also a 3D button and street view button, which indicates that Google has some neat features planned for this release, perhaps allowing users to get an up-close look at cities in the past.

For now, the feature remains hidden within the Android app, but the developer has shared instructions on how to make it work. Unfortunately, users interested in trying it out will have to root their devices, so try this at your own risk. If tinkering is your thing, you can check out the best phones for rooting and modding.

Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.