The differences between Google Earth and Google Maps

Google Earth and Google Maps used to be very different products, but over the past few years they’ve become much more similar. This is largely due to the addition of new features to Google Maps, such as support for 3D Imagery and other features that used to only be available in Google Earth.

The folks at Social Bubble recently wrote a post that discusses some of the difference between Earth and Maps. That inspired us to take it a bit further and lay out some of the differences.

To start, there are a handful of similarities between both programs. They both feature the same satellite imagery, allow you to search for locations, save places and get directions. In addition, both feature Street View imagery.

Google Maps
Google Maps offers a few advantages over Google Earth. It keeps your data synced across devices, has excellent turn-by-turn navigation features, and allows you to go into the past with historical Street View imagery. They recently crossed the one billion download mark, a testament to how popular it is.

Google Earth
While Google Maps is more convenient when you’re on the go (largely due to the turn-by-turn navigation), Google Earth has a lot of features that make it more powerful for digging in. Earth offers additional 3D content, makes it easier to stack layers of information, allows you to use special controllers such as the SpaceNavigator and the LEAP Motion, has an excellent flight simulator feature, allows you to view historical aerial imagery, and gives you additional tools such as the ruler and elevation profiles.

What is your favorite feature that you can only find in Google Earth?

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. My LEAST favorite difference is that maps dropped the wikipedia layer .. since they did that i use maps a LOT less .. as i want to be able to wiki what i am seeing !.
    It is (still) available in google earth but very limited compared to how it was in maps.
    Such a shame.

  2. Favourite feature has to be the rich data of the GE layers, plus right now to follow the route of the Tour de France via a KML or any other custom path.

    For Google, however, the difference is that Maps make the money in comparison with GE as currently set up.

  3. Gary Unger says:

    Although not entirely a direct answer to the question, you leave an opening for me to gripe about the new Google Maps. Every update becomes more commercial oriented (yep, we all have to make money), but at the expense of features they used to have, notably the ability to access custom My Maps on your mobile device. This was an insanely great feature, allowing you to create your own custom path on your PC and have it instantly available on your mobile device. Can’t figure that one out.

    What do I like? The vector maps of Maps. Smaller size, continualy zooming as opposed to loading a new tile, and flawless rotation. What don’t I like?… Why in the heck can’t you search for a restaurant while you have directions on screen. Google Earth…make a custom MyMap, export to Google Earth, search for restaurants along your route, DELETE that search without your route going away, and search again, say for gas, or anything else.

    As a committed shunpiker, custom MyMaps were a godsend. Do what you can to bring them back!!

  4. I can’t see a way of overlaying my marine charts on Google Maps using .KML files like I can in Earth. Long live Earth!

  5. eeeeeeeeeeeeyore says:

    Google Earth does not work on Chromebook. Fail.

  6. Scientist says:

    I think Google Map is better than Google Earth because street view in Google Map is the best.

  7. google map doesn’t have rivers marked with street view. small ones. with 1:50000 map. better to update

  8. I’d like Streetview to have a compass icon. Impossible to orientate when moving in from Googlemaps

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