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.

Similarities
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.



Comments

  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

  9. Although this article states both Google earth and map products use the same imagery that is not the case. When we look at our home on Google Earth it is missing a sunroom we added one year ago, but it appears on Google maps.

  10. Michael Capadano says:

    We added an in ground swimming pool two years ago and it appears on Google Maps, but not on Google Earth. I also noticed a few other things that were built in our town that are still not shown on Google Earth

  11. I use Google Earth extensively for scientific and educational purposes. Google Maps simply cannot do what I need: measurements, comparison between different dates, overlaying field photos, visibility analysis, horizon views, light and atmosphere simlulation. I don’t use 3D buildings almost at all, although Street View has become handy.
    I just hope the abandoning the Google Earth Plugin is not a sign for the future of Google Earth desktop.
    What I need from Google Earth is a way to georeference my field photos, not the simple stretch-and-rotate mode it currently has.

  12. I have an area in Midland Texas that is still showing 10-3-2014 imagery even though Google Maps has a 1rst qtr 2015 imagery.(don’t know exact date but several well locations are visible that have been drilled in 2015) What is up with this ? I have the 3-26-2015 imagery in the counties to the east and west just not for Midland. Any ideas why or how to resolve.
    Stay safe.

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