Google Earth arrives in the browser with no plugin required

The Google Earth Plugin has been an amazing tool to help bring Google Earth into the browser, but with the upcoming release of Google Maps you’ll be able to view Google Earth in your web browser without needing a plugin at all!  Here’s a quick video from Google that shows more of what’s coming in the new version of Maps:

There are quite a few enhancements in this new update to Maps, but the Earth integration could be quite compelling.  We’ve seen some amazing uses of the Google Earth Plugin over the years (things like youbeQ, concert seating, Ships and even a great flight simulator), so it’ll be interesting to see if this leads to even better projects.


You can read more about the latest mapping updates on the Google Lat Long Blog or in this long post from TechCrunch. The new version of Maps isn’t available to everyone yet, but you can request an invite to try it for yourself at this link.

What do you think of these latest changes to Google Maps?

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. Mickey – looks promising, but do you know if GE in Maps will match all the functionality of stand alone GE, and how new versions of GE will be introduced on Maps?

    Also, I asked for an invitation to try the new Maps yesterday, but nothing happened, so it is difficult to comment further. Do you know if asking for an invitation generates any sort of response form and applies regardless of browser, and if Google’s response is by return?

    Google do not explain how they are ‘personalising’ Maps – is this limited to Google account holders or will they have means of collecting the necessary data from any user of Maps regardless of browser settings?

  2. Never expected anything less but hugely confused about their beta 7 efforts. I can only assume that kml support is limited to its desktop brother.

    Also annoyed about the lack of a decent heads up to their dev partners. There wasn’t even a hint of this in the GE7 beta private news group.

    But I am pleased I have actively discouraged new projects around Google Earth over the last year. Some clients started to thank me already.

    This includes A-tour that I made reliant on video rather than interactive using Google Earth.

  3. Google Earth webgl is a great great news from Google IO ! In iNovmapping we are very excited with the new possibilities for youbeQ project!

  4. The demo site for the Maps API previews functionality and the look and feel of the revamped Maps as seen through the API

    The rendering of Street View through the API is now full page but when navigating still unfortunately very jerky with visible ’tiles’.

  5. Jonahrf says:

    I’ve been checking my email for 7 hours and I still have not received an invite. How long will it be?

  6. Jonahrf says:

    It’s roughly midnight here and I still have not received an invite. I’ve been checking my email for 9 hours now. Ridiculous!

  7. Jonahrf says:

    Its been 12 hours now. Where is my invitation?

  8. Jonahrf says:

    I’m so mad at Google. I stayed up till on a school night, waiting for the invitation that I didn’t get. I’m going to be so tired for nothing.

  9. I’m so mad at Google. I stayed up till on a school night, waiting for the invitation that I didn’t get. I’m going to be so tired for nothing. When will I get my invitation?

  10. According to posts on other blogs Google are now sending out invitations to connect to the new Google Maps. Has any GEB reader received one?

    Still no word on whether the ‘personalisation’ of the new Maps will apply to absolutely anyone who visits the site.

  11. Ricardo says:

    I have the new maps and they are better technologically: vector based and using WebGl.
    That will take some time to mature, because Internet Explorer doesn’t support it and there will be hardware based problems on some old machines.

    I see less features for the user. For example, no more peg man, so no way of knowing if a certain area has coverage or not. No more photo or wikipedia layer.

    The Earth view with the auto3D is cool, but not that interactive. No clickable buildings, and no way of displaying your own (as far as I can see). And of course, no more plugin…

    Let’s see if it matures and can match the features that we had in the past. The potential is there, but it’s up to them to provide access to the API or not 😉

    • Thanks for your observations, and will there be issues with other browsers?

      If there is no pegman how does the user enter Street View? On the API demo the only way seems to be to click on a SV thumbnail at a placemark.

      And, with no photo or Wikipedia options, plus the ‘personalised’ maps, it all seems not surprisingly to be geared to generating more revenue.

  12. Now the preview invitation process seems to be working, you need to have a Google account to sign up here
    so yet another way of sucking you in.

    By the way, the way the new Maps works seems to assume that the everywhere is like the US, and that users are dumber than they were in terms of reading and understanding a map.

  13. When they say we will send an invite soon, they mean never

  14. I’ve been checking my email for 24 hours. WHERE IS MY INVITE?

  15. I used my Hotmail email address to access my Google account( youtube, google play etc). Will the invitation be sent to my Hotmail or to my G mail?.

  16. More is now emerging about the new Google Maps, and this official Google page
    explains that you will not get Google Earth in your browser if you do not have a bang up to date operating system and powerful hardware. Instead you will get a “lite” version of the new Maps, but it is not clear whether this will still provide Earth view via the plug-in.

    What is very clear is that much useful information currently in Maps will no longer be available, and let’s hope that this is not a precedent for Google Earth.

  17. I’ve been waiting for 4 Days, and still no invite. Google forgot about me.

  18. Correction
    I’ve been waiting for 4 Days, and still no invite. Google forgot about me.
    They wont give me an invite.
    Soon means never

  19. Correction
    I’ve been waiting for 3 Days, and still no invite. Google forgot about me.
    They wont give me an invite.
    Soon means never

  20. So is this the death of the Javascript Earth API? There is no mention of an API for the new plugin-free version of Google Earth.

    • Spam Us says:

      I’d believe that it’s almost inevitable, if not certain that this will spell the end of the Google Earth API. Google does not need the plugin, nor the API anymore to use their products and promote their paid services, so they’ll just hang people currently using the API “out to dry”.

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