Google Earth finally works on web browsers other than Chrome. Namely, Firefox, Edge, and Opera. This is thanks to Google switching from Native Client (NaCl) to WebAssembly (Wasm). The upshot being you can now use Google Earth in Firefox, Edge, and Opera.
A Brief History of Google Earth
In 2004, Google acquired a company called Keyhole. One of the company’s products, called Keyhole Viewer, displayed mapping data over a globe. Google launched Google Earth in 2005, and then set about mapping the whole world . Including at street level.
In 2017, Google launched a new version of Google Earth. This was available on Chrome and Android, with a promise to bring it to other web browsers in the future. Now, three years on, Google Earth is finally available for other browsers besides Chrome.
How to Use Google Earth in Your Browser
In a post on Medium, Google announced that Google Earth is now available on Firefox, Edge, and Opera. People using those browsers should now be able to head to the Google Earth website and get the full experience the same as people using Google Chrome.
Google has added support for other browsers by switching from Native Client (NaCl) to WebAssembly (Wasm). Google Earth was built using Native Client, which only works on Chrome. Now, it has been rebuilt using WebAssembly, an open standard for the web.
— Google Earth (@googleearth) February 26, 2020
Despite this coming after six months of public beta testing, Google makes it clear that there is still work to be done. So you may find Google Earth looks and feels a little less polished when accessed on any other web browser apart from Chrome. At least for now.
There’s also one heavyweight browser ominous by its absence, with Google Earth still not accessible on Safari. However, Google has committed to getting Google Earth working on as many browsers as possible, and that includes Apple Safari.
How to Create Virtual Tours in Google Earth
This is a good move by Google. While it made sense to adopt a Chrome-first approach in 2017, people should be able to access Google Earth on their web browser of choice. And thanks to the emergence of new open standards for the web, that’s now possible.
If you haven’t used Google Earth in a while, and this support for more browsers inspires you to take another look, you’ll find that there are plenty of new features to explore. You can even create virtual tours using Google Earth to share with family and friends.