Sometimes Google makes useful apps and services, and sometimes it just shows off. Chrome Experiments are mostly about showing off. They're excuses for Google to demo the cutting edge technologies it is working on behind the scenes. The latest Chrome experiment is Land Lines, which takes your doodles and matches them up with real locations from Google Earth.
Land Lines is geared mainly toward phones, but you can play with it on the desktop as well. When you launch the app, which runs entirely in the browser, you have to choose draw or drag. For draw, simply draw a line or a shape, then Google uses machine learning and super-fast searching in a "vantage point tree" to match your input with something in Google Earth. You get your line overlaid on something that looks pretty similar from orbit. Neat, right?
Using a similar real-time analysis of lines, the drag mode assembles frames from Google Earth into a continuous path made up of rivers, coastlines, highways, and other shapes. As you drag along the screen, the line follows in more or less the same direction as your finger. Swiping seems to be a little more accurate. It's a trip to see the images fall into place as you guide the line around.
Land Lines is one of the more entertaining Chrome experiments in recent memory. It's definitely good to kill a little time this afternoon.