Google Earth API – one more month to live

In December last year Google announced the deprecation of the Google Earth API (also known as the Google Earth Plug-in). It is set to stop working one month from now on December 12th, 2015. The documentation page for the Google Earth API states that it will be shut down on that date.

The reason Google has given for terminating the Google Earth API product is that it is reliant on an ageing technology called NPAPI which is not considered secure and most browsers are dropping support for it or have already done so. In addition, it was never available on mobile platforms.

Google Chrome never included support for NPAPI in its 64-bit version released in September, 2014. The 32-bit version of Chrome gradually dropped support for NPAPI (and with it the Google Earth API) initially making it harder to access in April, 2015, and finally dropping support altogether with the release of Version 45 in October.

We believe Safari still supports it.

It still works in Firefox and we still find many uses for it, such as for finding recent imagery releases. Download this KML file to see the location of imagery in Google Earth that was captured in November (less than 12 days old!).

The Google Earth API has many great uses. We showcased a number of them in this series of posts earlier this year. We at GEB believe Google should consider allowing the GE plugin to continue to work at least until a suitable replacement is in place (with the next version of Google Earth, perhaps?).

If a complete replacement is not planned, Google should consider making some of the services available via the Maps API or entirely new APIs. For many of the most common uses, simply adding a few more features to the Google Maps API would make a big difference. Currently it is not possible to use the 3D imagery or tilt the view in the JavaScript Google Maps API, although it is possible with the Android version of the API. We use the historical imagery information quite a lot, which could be provided as a standalone API.

My flying skills could use some work. GEFS Online is a popular flight simulator based on the Google Earth API.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


  1. Vladimir Cvajniga says:

    Yes, it is a BIG problem. I have a Holux datalogger which works with their ezTour application. AFAIK, ezTour is based on Google Earth API. At the moment, I can’t imagine my life without GE API.

  2. Will I still be able to use Google Earth itself, or it is being completely shut down?

  3. I have been unable to download Google Earth and find that the new status I have just read of might be the cause. Is there any reason for the inability to download that anyone is aware of.? I have Internet Explorer

  4. Will google earth Api support available on older browser which support npapi plugin?

  5. Shiva Kumar says:

    It’s been a while Google Earth API deprecation notice published, is Google coming up with any new alternative API to support 3D maps on web interfaces?

  6. Arturo Contreras says:

    Hello Timothy Whitehead,

    Please I have one problem.

    I develop a project with Google Eath API using C#. This worked well until one week ago(I know about the depreciation of google earth) but I wanna know if this is really or I have problems with some configuration.

    I would very much appreciate your answer.


  7. Shreya Deb says:

    Is there a solution for accessing the historical imagery using an API?

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