In November 2015 we had a look at Google Earth’s internal browser and its capabilities. In January this year, Google Earth was updated to version 188.8.131.5236, including an upgrade to many of the internal components in Google Earth, which subtly changed the look and feel of the interface. We wondered whether or not the internal browser had also received an upgrade – and it turns out that it has.
In November 2015, Google Earth reported:
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; N; ; en-US) AppleWebKit/532.4 (KHTML, like Gecko) Google Earth Pro/184.108.40.2067 Safari/532.4
And now it reports:
Mozilla/5.0 (N; Windows NT 6.2; WOW64) AppleWebKit/534.34 (KHTML, like Gecko) Google Earth Pro/220.127.116.1136 Safari/534.34
And for comparison, the latest Google Chrome is:
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/58.0.3029.41 Safari/537.36
We also used html5test.com to see what the internal browser’s capabilities are.
As you can see above, Google Earth now scores 169.
Google Earth in 2015 scored 119.
The latest Chrome scores 518. (Interestingly in November 2015, Chrome scored 521, so it’s getting worse).
Firefox scores 474.
Edge scores 460.
Internet Explorer 11 scores 312.
So although Google Earth has improved slightly, it’s still equivalent to a very old browser.
We found that Google Maps can run in a placemark popup, but uses ‘Lite’ mode, which doesn’t support 3D imagery. We also found that the Google home page, does not work at all in a popup, but we were able to open it in Google Earth’s browser using a link in a popup. You can decide whether popup links open in Google Earth or in your default browser using the setting
“Tools->Options->General->Display->Display->Show web results in external browser” (Windows) or
“Google Earth -> Preferences->General->Display->Display->Show web results in external browser” (Mac).
We did manage to open Bing in a popup, but not Bing Maps:
We were able to search for websites in Bing and open some of them, but strangely, if we searched for Google, we could not open the links to the Google home page.
The biggest problem with the Google Earth internal browser is it has no built in debugger, so when something doesn’t work, it is very difficult to find out why.
Download this KML file for the placemarks we used for the above tests.