Google Earth API set to retire late next year

Google launched the Earth API over six years ago facilitating developers by allowing them to construct 3D mapping applications in their browsers using JavaScript. However, the company has now announced that the said API will be shut down next year; December 12, 2015.

There are many reasons for this, the most prominent one being browsers not using Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) for security reasons. Both Chrome and Firefox announced end of support for the framework a couple of months ago, and as Earth's API is built on this plugin, the death of NPAPI also means the inevitable death of the Google Earth API itself.

This, coupled with the reason that the usage of the Earth API has drastically dropped from 9.1% in September 2013 to just 0.1% in October 2014, has eventually become the final nail in the coffin of the API.

As Google Maps terms of services state that an API should be supported until one year after its retirement announcement (which was written on December 12, 2014) , the Google Earth API will be supported till December 12, 2015 in accordance with this clause.

Moving forward, only these browsers will be supported next year:

Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, 7, and 8)

  • Google Chrome 5.0-39.0 (32-bit)
  • Internet Explorer 7-9, and 10-11 with Compatibility View (32-bit) (Note that the Windows 8 browsing mode with Internet Explorer does not support plugins.)
  • Firefox 11.0-34.0

Apple Mac OS X 10.6 or later (any Intel Mac)

  • Google Chrome 5.0-39.0 (32-bit)
  • Safari 3.1+
  • Firefox 11.0-34

Regarding future plans, Ken Hoetmer, Product Manager, Google Maps APIs states:

Google Earth has a proud legacy, which continues with the new Google Earth for Android, powered by a brand new renderer. 3D is in our blood, and while we can’t announce anything just now, we look forward to sharing more exciting product news in the future.

Although there is no hint regarding the nature of the new project, it certainly leads to speculation about what's next up Google's sleeve.

Source: Google Geo Developers Blog via VentureBeat |Image via Mashable

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