Google Products Overview

Google Maps

Google Maps is free and allows the user to choose from a variety of basemaps, upload files, and draw features onto the map.

Google Maps Engine

Google Maps Engine is similar to Google Maps but it has more capabilities and is not free. Google Maps Engine can support a wider variety of file uploads, more complex maps and has more sharing options.

Google Earth Pro

Google Earth Pro is the paid version of Google Earth. Unlike Google Maps and Engine it uses high quality satellite imagery and 3D imagery. The user can create maps, model new buildings, and create a video of 3D imagery.

Google Earth Tourbuilder

Google Earth Tourbuilder is free and uses Google Earth imagery to allow the user to create a tour.

Google Crisis Response

Google Crisis Response responds mainly to natural disasters. Often Google Crisis Response will have a resource page and host a crisis map with information from authorities and the crowd. Google Crisis Response also has a variety of products for responders.


Google Earth Tourbuilder


Name: Google Earth Tourbuilder
$: Free
Examples: North Korean Prison Camps Exposed (featured image), The Syrian Refugee Crisis From Above
Level: Beginners
Use For: Telling a story with a geographic component


Google Earth Tourbuilder allows the user to tell a story by showing the viewer information associated with different locations and time periods on Google Earth. The user can control the style of the map by choosing whether to show borders and labels, roads, 3D buildings, and 3D trees. The user can also add a map that is in KML or GME format. The introduction slide summarizes the story and can outline the time frame if desired. The user can add locations to the map and rearrange them as desired. There are various options for connecting the points in the story on the map. For each location the user can choose the zoom and orientation of the map and what kind of icon is displayed. The user can also choose to display either a street view or historical imagery. The user can add a description of the location as well as dates and up to 25 photos and videos.


Google Earth Tourbuilder can be used by those without prior mapping experience and free for anyone to use. The tour can only be viewed on Windows and Mac OS X 10.6+. The viewer must install the Google Earth plugin before they can view the tour. The tour can be shared through a link. Google Earth Tourbuilder allows the viewer to zoom in and out exploring the area as they wish, this is not possible with StoryMap JS. However, it can be viewed on fewer devices and has high quality imagery which can be difficult to load without high speed internet.