Google Earth Blog

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

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

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.

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