Google Earth Comes to the Web Browser

Dennis Faas's picture

Google Earth is coming to your web browser. Last week, at the Google I/O conference, the company unveiled the new browser plug-in and Application Programming Interface (API) that can turn a Google Map on any web page into a 3D Google Earth application. (Source:

In a blog post, Paul Rademacher, the Google Earth plug-in Technical Lead said that with the Google Earth plug-in you can "control the camera; create lines, markers, and polygons; import 3D models from the web and overlay them anywhere on the planet. In fact, you can even overlay your content over different planets, stars, and galaxies by toggling Sky mode, letting you build 3D Google Sky mashups." (

Currently, the plug-in is available for Windows XP and Vista only, but plans for a Mac version will no doubt be released in coming weeks. When Google Earth was launched three years ago it became a popular tool for a variety of uses including newscasts, travel photos, and social issues, such as world oil consumption.

But Google Earth was hampered by the fact that you had to download a large program and have a computer with enough power to support Google Earth's image-rich interface. Bringing Google Earth to the web browser now plays into Google's cloud computing strategy which takes users away from reliance on downloaded programs for a web-based computing experience. Despite this plan however, early reviews say that while the new plug-in is effective and fun to use it does not have the power and versatility that the download does.

Right now the Google Earth plug-in only works with a handful of demo sites, but some are worth taking a look at. Monster Milktruck, for example, allows you to drive a milk truck in any location in the world. For a full list of examples click here.

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