Say goodbye to the Google Earth API

The developer API will be shut down next year. How long does the app have?

121514 google earth

Google plans to discontinue the Google Earth API in one year, withdrawing access to the suite that allowed developers to construct 3D mapping applications that ran in browsers using JavaScript.

In announcing the news on the Google Developer's Blog, Ken Hoetmer, product manager for Google Maps APIs, said the decision was due to both Chrome and Firefox removing a needed plugin framework. The framework is the Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI), which both Mozilla and Google have said they would stop using for security reasons.

Along with dwindling cross-platform support, Google decided to wind down support. Usage of the Earth API has drastically dropped from 9.1% in September 2013 to just 0.1% in October 2014, so Google is basically killing something that's already dead.

Google Maps terms of services states that an API should be supported for one year after its retirement announcement, and since that announcement was posted on December 12, the Google Earth API will be supported until December 12, 2015.

During this time, the API will only support the following browsers:

  • Google Chrome 5.0-39.0 (32-bit)
  • Internet Explorer 7-9, and 10-11 with Compatibility View (32-bit)
  • Firefox 11.0-34.0
  • Apple Mac OS X 10.6 or later (any Intel Mac)
  • Google Chrome 5.0-39.0 (32-bit)
  • Safari 3.1+
  • Firefox 11.0-34

This leaves the question of what will become of the Google Earth application. The app is on version, with a build date of 10/7/2013. That's basically ancient in software terms, letting it go 14 months without an update.

Hoetmer addressed this in the blog post, sort of:

"Regarding future plans, Google Earth has a proud legacy, which continues with the new Google Earth for Android, powered by a brand new renderer. 3D is in our blood, and while we can’t announce anything just now, we look forward to sharing more exciting product news in the future."

Hopefully in under 14 months.

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