Google Earth Timelapse has grown since it debuted in 2013. It started off by giving us satellite windows into certain areas to see how they've progressed across roughly three decades. Since then, it has taken the entire world, made it zoomable and scrollable, and has given us an easy way to see it change year after year after year. But Timelapse has only been available to desktops for the past while up until today, when Google announced it was enabling the program on mobile web browsers.
Timelapse relies on data from more than 15 million satellite images coming out of the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA Landsat, and the European Sentinel program from between 1984 and 2018. For each year, the data is processed through the Google Earth Engine into 35 high-resolution images to make a cloud-free collage of the world, which becomes one frame of a 35-frame video. Google then uses the Time Machine engine from Carnegie Mellon's CREATE Lab to make the video interactive, allowing users to zoom and scroll through the field.
Unfortunately, this gets into why Timelapse hasn't been available on mobile: major web browsers instated bans over the last year or so against autoplaying media on webpages. For people who are annoyed by pop-up content, that's a good thing. But such bans also prevented Google Earth Timelapse from properly functioning — a bad thing.
However, Google says that Chrome — it should know, it owns the thing — and Firefox have started to relent and are letting video automatically play with the sound muted. As Timelapse doesn't need sound to function, the Google Earth team went ahead and made the feature available on the mobile web.
Users can move and zoom as they please around the world or look up locations with the search bar. By default, the video loops through its 35-year range, but it can be paused for users to pick through images from certain years. They can also share a link to their current view in Timelapse or jump to a simplified Google Maps view right within the page.
You can take a look at Google Earth Timelapse right here.