Google Earth Arrives on Firefox, Opera and Edge |

Google Earth Arrives on Firefox, Opera and Edge

The company finally fulfilled the promise it had made three years ago when the desktop app was shut down


Close to three years ago, Google Earth became accessible on the Chrome browser, thus ending an era of virtually exploring our planet only through an application that was installed on one’s computer. At that time, the developers had said that they were working hard to bring the web-based app to other browsers.

Three years after that promise was made, Google Earth finally arrived on Firefox, Opera and Microsoft Edge, with another promise that it would soon appear on Apple’s Safari browser. Would it take another three years? Well, not if Google can help it as the company’s decision to go with new coding language WebAssembly recently received global approval.

And what is WebAsssembly? It is the fourth native browser language after HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to be adopted by the WWW consortium (as recently as December 5, 2019) that allows code to run on a browser. It enables high-resource apps such as games, computer-aided design, video and image editing and virtualization to run on browsers at the same pace as they do on a PC.

When Google launched the Earth on the web, it was only available on Chrome. “This is because it was built using Native Client, which was a Chrome-only solution. Back then, this was the only way we could make sure that Earth would work well on the web. Much has changed since that time and WebAssembly has emerged as the leading open standard, with browser support maturing greatly over the past few years,” Google says on its blog.

For the past five years, we’ve been on a journey to bring Google Earth to as many browsers as possible; meeting people where they are regardless of technology choice. And over the past few weeks, we’ve taken some big steps toward these goals, says the blog post co-authored by software engineer Jessy Beck and tech lead Jordan Mears.

Though Google Earth is now available on other browsers, the developers forewarned that it required some more polishing before it can match-up to the experience on the Chrome browser. “We’re continuing to work on supporting as many browsers as possible, and we’ll keep you posted on any new developments,” the Google officials said.

As for the launch of Google Earth on Apple’s Safari, the officials did not have any specific time frames towards this goal but committed that it should be happening sometime soon, given that they had the technology wherewithal now to get things done.

With this move, Google has ended its reliance on native apps on computers to deliver any design-led experience.

TAGS: Google, Earth, browsers, Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Opera, Firefox