Google Earth API /plugin finally coming to an end

Google has announced that they are finally shutting down the Google Earth API /plugin on Wednesday, January 11, 2017. They first announced its deprecation in December 2014, giving it a year. In December 2015, they gave it a temporary reprieve, which is finally running out.

The Google Earth API is based on an old technology called the NPAPI plugin framework and is primarily intended to allow Google Earth to be run in a browser and controlled with JavaScript. However, it has been used in some desktop apps as well. The NPAPI plugin framework is considered outdated and insecure by most browser vendors, and some, including Google Chrome, have dropped it altogether. Others, such as Firefox (32-bit), allow you to use it but only after specifically allowing the plugin to run.

We will miss it, as it was a good way to access information about historical imagery and we used to create imagery update maps using it. However, since June, Google has not updated the ‘historical imagery’ layer (other than the recent addition of the global Landsat/Sentinel mosaics)

Google Earth 4
At the same time, Google is ending support for Google Earth 4. Anyone running Google Earth 4 will no longer be able to access imagery from January 11, 2017. The current latest version is 7.1.7.2606

If you absolutely need an older version, you can download older versions going back to Google Earth 5.0 here.

Here’s hoping Google can come up with a new Google Earth API that allows us to control Google Earth and query its data.


One of the uses we had for the Google Earth API was studying [historical imagery density](One of https://www.gearthblog.com/tag/historical-imagery-density).

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.






PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.

Comments

  1. Not with windows 10 they ain’t. Dad has been with computers longer then I have back in the Commodore 64 days and was one of the first to go on the internet back then known as the *web* which was BBS and you went to Q-Link to go anywhere.

    Windows 10 and Apple to some extent are all returning to the era of the terminal where you have no memory on your computer. The rich elite have decided due to piracy we should NOT be allowed to own anything and all media controlled digitally outside.

    In the old days home computers COULDN’T have much memory. Commodore 64 only had 64K of RAM but they packed what they could into that and often times it showed if the programmer used the C64 kernel.

    Now with smartphones you have to ALWAYS be online and have very little internal memory storage much like the early terminal days. You had your workstation terminal that connected to a master server.

    Today we call it *Cloud Computing* which is essentially a super master computer you connect your smartphone or new desktops too which MS is trying to force rental fees instead of paying it once and own it on a couple computers or be allowed to create one back up copy.

    Google Earth will be too big for a smartphone and too hard to navigate on such tiny keys. Most smartphone users also don’t have the attention span for it.

    • “Windows 10 and Apple to some extent are all returning to the era of the terminal where you have no memory on your computer.”

      I know where you’re going with this, but computers actually have more memory/storage than ever before, and the same goes for mobile devices. Of course mobile devices didn’t exist in the period you mention for the most part.

      But it has always been a goal of lots of computing people to have the computing power and storage centralized, while the user uses a simple terminal. It would be enormously more efficient for computing power, storage, energy usage, and cost. Imagine how much computer resources, energy, and money are wasted by everyone having a computer on while it’s not being used for anything, many having a 1TB hard drive that they barely fill.

      I remember Sun Microsystems’ tagline “The Network is the Computer”. One big reason things haven’t gone that way is because the amount of data we have created and used has been too much for our internet speeds. Internet speed has been a limiting factor. But the are also other factors such as availability (as you say always-online requirement may cause problems), some security policies, and performance needs. And in business settings, virtualization has actually used a slightly different method to do the same thing, gaining more efficiency in computing power, storage, energy usage, and cost.

      “The rich elite have decided due to piracy we should NOT be allowed to own anything and all media controlled digitally outside.”

      Like music and movies? Physical media? I think content creators would sell us as many Bluray movies as we want. Ownership of your copy of a movie may be a sticky subject, but in the end it hasn’t really mattered – you buy a movie and you can play it in some way. Of course content creators don’t want everyone to have access to a free copy of their content, and restrictions inevitably have some downsides. Your “rich elite” boogeyman is a distracting red herring.

      People are shifting to streaming content for movies probably for many reasons. For me, I just don’t feel like it’s worth it to buy physical disks anymore since I didn’t use them very often. And streaming services are not very expensive compared to physical media, and compared to cable TV. For music, if you buy something on iTunes or the Google Play Store, you can download the DRM-free music file and play it locally. Nobody is forced to subscribe to Netflix, or buy music a certain way.

      “Now with smartphones you have to ALWAYS be online and have very little internal memory storage much like the early terminal days.”

      You don’t have to be online to do lots of things, probably most things – like play music, view movies if downloaded for offline use (Netflix and Ultraviolet), and use Google Maps in offline mode, and tons of other things. If you are interacting online, browsing the internet, playing a game with someone else, or using Facebook, then of course you have to be online.

      “Google Earth will be too big for a smartphone and too hard to navigate on such tiny keys.”

      I agree. It has been a mobile app for a long time, and I had it, but you really can’t do much with it compared to using a desktop computer, a larger screen, and mouse/keyboard input.

  2. If what you say can’t be done in two sentences they will tune you out and go elsewhere. Yes it’s that bad with the smartphone crowd. You don’t ever get to OWN your smartphone unless you don’t mind it being a brick when you stop making payments.

    You can’t keep anything offline that you did on the internet for later usage. If you stop payments your phone is a brick and might as well toss it.

    The rich like it that way because otherwise we would become more wise about the ways of the world so that way they control the news they send us.

    If they like Obama they will give news that only favors him and discredits any critics thru having the loudest voice.

    • “You don’t ever get to OWN your smartphone unless you don’t mind it being a brick when you stop making payments.”

      I’ll just throw in that I believe you could always buy your smartphone outright if you wanted to, so you weren’t locked into a provider’s plan (because they subsidized the phone by charging more for the service plan). Now actually Apple switched to only sell phones that aren’t subsidized by service plans. You can buy the phone outright, or you can pay with a payment plan where the only concern of the payment plan is the phone, not the service. Of course if you stop making payments on your phone, they may brick it, just as someone might repossess your car if you stop making car loan payments, your house if… I also read that Verizon killed off service contracts and phone subsidies back in 2015 for all smartphones.

      “You can’t keep anything offline that you did on the internet for later usage.”

      You mean export it offline? You could start by making whatever you did offline to begin with, then put it online, so you already have it both places. Or you could just save an offline copy of whatever you did immediately after you did it. That would be more work. But I’m sure web companies, smartphone app companies would say it’s not their responsibility to allow for that, and a feature like that isn’t requested by their users. Google, for one, actually does allow you to export a great deal of your data with Takeout.

      https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3024190?source=gsearch&hl=en

  3. (Goes to the tune of Whatever You Can Do I can do better)

    (shows two competitors which both phones are actually a piece of crap)

    Whatever your smartphone can do mine is smarter! No it’s not! Yes it is! No It’s not! Yes It Is!

  4. JTEDimandix says:

    BRING BACK GOOGLE EARTH API NOW. I CANT ACCESS CERTAIN WEBSITES.

  5. This makes me sad, because I love all the features google earth as, and being able to add custom data to share on the internet. The new google earth has less features than google maps it seems. At the moment, I don’t even see a way to turn off the 3D or change the map, or toggle overlays.
    This is the totally opposite of what google earth was, which was useful to dorks, I can relate to, who love having access to all the information they can dig up.



PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.