large image

Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Google Maps ditches the #flatearth, and Greenland is the right size again

Google has dealt another crushing blow to the flat-earther movement by adopting a new 3D globe within Google Maps. Now, when users zoom out from the traditional flat view, the earth becomes an actual globe. Just like in the real world.

Rather than making the change to clear up any lingering confusion among the unenlightened, Google is chasing accuracy here. You see, it’s much harder to show accurate representations of landmass using flat projections. If you’ve ever wondered why Greenland looks the same size as the continent of Africa on a flat map, that’s why.

The change came about two weeks ago and is possible thanks to the WebGL tech in the major browsers. It’s compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge. It’s not available on the mobile apps yet, but we’d imagine the update will come sooner rather than later.

Vox explains why all of the flat maps you see are wrong in the video below. “The surface of a sphere cannot be represented as a plane without some form of distortion,” the narrator says. Even stenographic projection tools, which seek to transport the globe to a cylinder, which can be laid flat, has trade offs in shape, distance, projection and land area.

Related: Best smartphone

This is why the 836,300 square miles of Greenland can look the same size as the 11.73 million square miles on the Mercator Projection Google uses for flat maps. This model preserves the shape of countries and also preserves direction, as it was initially built for navigation. However, it fails with its representation of size.

You probably didn’t come to Trusted Reviews for a cartography lesson today, but you’re welcome.

What new features would you like to see Google add to its mapping app? Drop us a line with your suggestions @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.