Where next after the Google Earth API?

With the end of the Google Earth API imminent we are having a look at what various sites that depend, or used to depend on the Google Earth API are doing about it. Earlier this year we did a showcase of sites that use the Google Earth API and we will have a look at a selection of those sites.

The first is Rally Navigator. It is a comprehensive online application for creating rally road books, which are a set of instructions used by rally drivers and their co-pilots to map out a course and know what is coming next at each turn of the road. Knowing that the Google Earth API was coming to an end, the developers of Rally Navigator redesigned it to use Google Maps instead. Although it now lacks 3D effects we do not believe it has lost any essential features as a result of the conversion and has gained more features with time. So if you are a rally driver (or co-pilot) then you should definitely check it out. It has both free and paid for versions.

Next up is GETeach. This site was converted to use Google Maps even before we reviewed it earlier this year, but they left the Google Earth version online and it can still be found here. GETeach is designed to use as much screen space as possible for the maps, which leaves very little space for menus or other information telling you what it does. So the first thing you should do is view the help page to get an idea of its features and how to access them.

We do feel that the loss of the Google Earth API in this case does mean the loss of a lot of useful features that simply cannot be replaced by Google Maps, notably the loss of historical imagery and 3D imagery. Although Google Maps does have 3D imagery, it is not accessible via the Google Maps API as is used for this site. Even with the loss of the Google Earth API, however, it is still a great site and would be very useful in the classroom, so be sure to check it out.

Next is Flightradar24, a flight tracking website that shows the live locations of flights around the globe. It used to have a 3D view, which used the Google Earth plugin to show a model of an aircraft in the correct location on its route. They currently have a message stating that due to the demise of the Google Earth plugin, they are currently working on a replacement 3D experience. We will have to wait till they are done to see how it compares to the old Google Earth API experience.

Last but not least is GEFS Online, a popular flight simulator based on the Google Earth API. As far as we can tell, no significant development work has been done on the site for quite some time, with the last blog entry being nearly two years old. We can only guess that there are no current plans to move to an alternative platform and that the site will die along with 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. Any site looking to replace Google Earth API should check out Luciad technology: http://luciad.com/luciad-google

  2. G.C. Herman says:

    We are using NASA’s WorldWind: http://www.impacttectonics.org/geoTools/3ppops.html. Meanwhile the GE Plugin is STILL working, but only in Firefox browsers…..

  3. Name withheld says:

    I’m a long time & frequent user of GEFS Online (http://gefs-online.com/) and I’m happy to say that it’s been recently migrated over to Cesium (http://cesiumjs.org/), an open source platform that displays a 3D globe using WebGL & no plugins.

  4. DJI uses if for their drone ground station software and now $500 units that rely on the plug-in will be useless.

  5. GEFS now uses Cesium

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