It took Google three years to add Firefox, Edge and Opera support to Google Earth - gHacks Tech News

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It took Google three years to add Firefox, Edge and Opera support to Google Earth

When Google unveiled the new Google Earth back in 2017, it switched Google Earth from being a desktop application to a web application. The company made Google Earth Chrome-exclusive at the time stating that the company's own Chrome browser was the only browser to support Native Client (NaCl) technology at the time and that the technology "was the only we [Google] could make sure that Earth would work well on the web".

The emergence of new web standards, WebAssembly in particular, allowed Google to switch to the standard supported by other browsers. The company launched a beta of Google Earth for browsers that support WebAssembly, Firefox, Edge and Opera are mentioned specifically six months ago.

Today, Google revealed that it has made Google Earth available officially for the web browsers Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge (Chromium-based), and Opera.

Note: I tried the web version of Google Earth in browsers that Google did not mention. Vivaldi and Brave loaded Google Earth but the loading took quite a while; noticeably longer than in supported web browsers.

Users who open Google Earth in one of the browsers may use it just as if they are using Google Chrome. The service displays a "you are running an experimental version of Earth" still when it is opened though.

google earth firefox

The message suggests that the version for these newly supported browsers is still not up-to-par to the Chrome version.

Google notes on Medium that it still has work to do in improving the experience and introducing official Apple Safari browser support:

We still have some work to do. Namely polishing our experience across all these browsers and adding support for Safari. We’re continuing to work on supporting as many browsers as possible, and we’ll keep you posted on any new developments.

Closing Words

The Chrome exclusivity of Google Earth left a sour taste for many non-Chrome users. While it is Google's right to create products as it pleases, and design them to favor its own products over others, doing so does not really align well with sentences like "at Google we are big supporters of open web standards".

Now You: What is your take on all of this?

Summary
It took Google three years to add Firefox, Edge and Opera support to Google Earth
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It took Google three years to add Firefox, Edge and Opera support to Google Earth
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Google revealed today that it has made Google Earth available officially for the web browsers Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge (Chromium-based), and Opera.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Iron Heart said on February 27, 2020 at 10:17 am
    Reply

    That it took them so long to support Opera is ridiculous, since Opera is based on Chromium just like the new Microsoft Edge. Adding support for the old MS Edge that used EdgeHTML is pointless IMHO, as Microsoft is phasing out that browser anyway.

    It’s also very fair of them to still support Firefox, despite its low and still declining user base. I know of some web developers that do no longer bother to test websites against Firefox. If it works on Chromium and Safari (many Apple devices out there), then it’s good enough.

    In general, I do not think that a Chromium dominance is all too bad for the market. It makes the life of web developers easier, since they do no longer have to invest time to test against niche browsers anymore. Chromium is also open source, so if Google’s contributions are nefarious in nature, it can be modified by other browser vendors. That’s in stark contrast to the former Internet Explorer dominance; IE was closed source and couldn’t be modified by third parties whenever Microsoft decided to do something iffy. Chromium, an open source product, has now overtaken the market. Isn’t that what we always wanted?

    1. Anonymous said on February 27, 2020 at 11:46 am
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      The mental gymnastics you do to justify chromium supremacy is indeed remarkable. I hope you are getting financially compensated for this.

      1. Iron Heart said on February 27, 2020 at 3:59 pm
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        @Anonymous

        Please explain why the domination of open source software is bad? If Google does something to Chromium that is bad enough to warrant a fork, it will be forked.

        > I hope you are getting financially compensated for this.

        That barb is so old I can see its long beard from three miles away. And nope.

    2. Neurolemma said on February 27, 2020 at 12:12 pm
      Reply

      You can’t argue with Brave *supporters* [Editor: please stay polite] in a factual manner. The FACT that Brave is heavily
      reliant to Chromium development means that they can’t stray too much away from Google’s path. You can’t just hard fork Chromium if Google decides to do something catastrophic for content blockers (Manifest v3) or kill off your business model (closing Chromium source). They will keep introducing new web standards and implement it in mainline Chromium and intentionally break your implementation like how they did countless times in the past that you can no longer keep up. Not even Microsoft could. It’s all just a house of cards.

      1. Iron Heart said on February 27, 2020 at 3:56 pm
        Reply

        @Neurolemma

        > You can’t just hard fork Chromium

        You can, your company just has to be big enough. That being said, in almost all cases hard forks are not even necessary. Usually it is sufficient to port your set of changes to each new Chromium release.

        > if Google decides to do something catastrophic for content blockers (Manifest v3)

        1) There are Chromium-based browsers (Brave, Opera) which come with built-in adblockers that do not rely on any extension API, so Manifest V3 doesn’t affect those built-in blockers.
        2) Google has announced that they will keep the webRequest API fully functional in the Enterprise version of Chrome, so keeping support for adblock extensions in other Chromium-based browsers might be as easy as flipping one switch.

        > or kill off your business model (closing Chromium source).

        I strongly doubt that they would close source Chromium. For one, there are many contractors and third party companies that are in a business relationship with Google, and those rely on the code being open source for their own projects. Hell, the whole Electron framework relies on it! Google in turn also relies on code contributions of third parties to the Chromium codebase, as it stands (Google doesn’t develop Chromium alone, contrary to popular belief).

        But let’s just say that Google really did close source Chromium… What would happen? A big competitor like Microsoft or a coalition of smaller competitors would take the last open source version of Chromium and continue on, and those who create pull requests for upstream Chromium now will continue to do so for the fork, as Google wouldn’t let them anymore. The financial burden of maintaining Chromium would thus also increase for Google. If Google indeed closed-sourced Chromium, they would lose all “moral” or “marketing” support from the Open Source community, which shouldn’t be underestimated.

        > They will keep introducing new web standards and implement it in mainline Chromium and intentionally break your implementation like how they did countless times in the past that you can no longer keep up.

        Not sure what you are alluding to, exactly. The Chromium-based projects can keep up just fine so far, not least because some of them are involved in the actual upstream development of Chromium.

        > Not even Microsoft could.

        They could, they had both the financial resources and the skill. Problem was, nobody was using old MS Edge. So pouring money into something like that wasn’t making sense for them anymore. Thus, they cut cost by moving to Chromium, and to be honest, there was no real business reason for Microsoft not to support Chromium in the first place. It’s not like they profit from having their own engine.

        But yeah, a lack of skill, will or money was not the reason why Microsoft gave up. They gave up because old MS Edge was pointless with such a low user base, and because there was no reason for them not to use Chromium.

        > It’s all just a house of cards.

        Not sure what you mean. Chromium is going strong as it is, and should Google contribute nefarious code to Chromium, it will be forked by someone. Users can switch browsers quickly as well, if you piss them off too much.

    3. charger said on February 27, 2020 at 1:39 pm
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      @IH I don’t think it matters too much that a particular engine is dominant. What matters is who is running things and if they’re doing things for everyone’s best interest or their own. Google have shown repeatedly it’s basically to help themselves and they have ignored concerns.

      Having said that it depends on how much resources you can put in to your chromium based browser to get around their dubious decisions. A one man band probably can’t, larger teams like MS and Brave can (although I certainly don’t trust Edge one bit for privacy).

    4. anona said on February 27, 2020 at 3:38 pm
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      >It makes the life of web developers easier, since they do no longer have to invest time to test against niche browsers anymore.

      In an ideal world it shouldn’t matter. The website should be developed as standards-compliant and then the browsers are expected to display it correctly.

  2. Iron Heart said on February 27, 2020 at 10:25 am
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    @Martin Brinkmann

    > Note: I tried the web version of Google Earth in browsers that Google did not mention. Vivaldi and Brave loaded Google Earth but the loading took quite a while; noticeably longer than in supported web browsers.

    Any idea regarding how Google does that? Vivaldi and Brave are both Chromium-based, and as far as I know both browsers use Chrome’s user agent. I wonder how they differentiate them from stock Google Chrome.

  3. ard said on February 27, 2020 at 10:37 am
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    Long time ago , I did use Google Earth on desktop, but the last 3-5 yrs not anymore. Did not even know it had developed into a browser app, let along it was Chrome limited. Do not use Chrome , so I would not have found it .
    I do use Qwant Maps nowadays for my personal maps/routes etc., it promises a lot better privacy and security behavior than Chrome would ever be able to even suggest it has.
    Qwant is still in Beta but working fine and in each modern browser. All your details on the maps, are encrypted with Masq and store on your device only.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on February 28, 2020 at 11:50 am
      Reply

      Qwant Maps is pretty much worthless.

  4. Sam said on February 27, 2020 at 11:19 am
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    Because, let’s face it, Brave sucks. It’s hard to imagine developers wasting their time to test their software to see how it performs on Brave.

    Obviously, Brave doesn’t even work as well as Chrome, even though it’s based on the same code. Epic fail.

    Brave’s market share is so tiny, smart developers don’t consider it a serious contender.

    1. Iron Heart said on February 27, 2020 at 4:22 pm
      Reply

      @Sam

      > Because, let’s face it, Brave sucks.

      What a way to start a post, lol. After reading that I am sure that anything you have to say about Brave will be sound and well-reasoned, and not to forget totally fair.

      > It’s hard to imagine developers wasting their time to test their software to see how it performs on Brave.

      ???

      Brave, like all browsers except for Safari and Firefox, is based on Chromium. If you are already testing for other Chromium-based browsers, which all web devs do ’cause market share, no separate testing for Brave is required in the first place.

      > Obviously, Brave doesn’t even work as well as Chrome, even though it’s based on the same code. Epic fail.

      ???

      Benchmarks show that they perform the exact same, which is unsurprising, given that they are based on the same code.

      > Brave’s market share is so tiny, smart developers don’t consider it a serious contender.

      Brave is rapidly growing, and then again, developers don’t even test for Brave separately, as it is not necessary on a technical level.

  5. Yuliya said on February 27, 2020 at 11:24 am
    Reply

    I prefer to use the Android application for this. I performs really well, even on mid-range phones.

    1. Bruno76 said on February 28, 2020 at 6:42 am
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      @Yuliya

      That’s a very good point, as many want to use Google Earth on a smart phone.

      Yet I still use a dumb phone. When I need more I bring my laptop.

      I may buy a Surface Neo when that comes out, but otherwise I’m not a fan of smart phones.

  6. Max said on February 27, 2020 at 11:46 am
    Reply

    Google Earth may be a web app, but Google Earth Pro is still available for the desktop, at least for now.

  7. Dumbledalf said on February 27, 2020 at 12:35 pm
    Reply

    They just didn’t want to.

  8. Peter said on February 27, 2020 at 3:38 pm
    Reply

    “We still have some work to do” my a**hole. Google doesn’t believe in a free internet, hold together by open standards, rather Google views itself as THE internet. They have no intentions of allowing others into their highly controlled environment more than corporate laws dictates. Google will just give access and then change the api and keep the changes to themselves, efficiently gimping any other browser but chrome. Like when Google gimped Youtube, by redesigning it in polymer, relying on a deprecated version of the Shadow DOM API. Google is today what would have happened back then, if Internet Explorer 6 was allowed to continue wreak havoc.

    1. Anonymous said on February 27, 2020 at 11:01 pm
      Reply

      [Editor: please be polite] Google like any company has every right to choose how their own products will work.

      1. Peter said on February 28, 2020 at 8:48 am
        Reply

        And i, like every consumer, have the right to criticize them. Internet does not belong to Google. If they’d made Google Earth a software exclusive, that would be a different thing, but it’s a webpage and therefore EVERY browser should have EQUAL access.

      2. Alex said on February 28, 2020 at 5:12 pm
        Reply

        No, they don’t.
        See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competition_law

        In particular, a company is not allowed to leverage their dominance in one field to achieve a dominance in another.

        The point that many people are missing is that Google sites do not have to support Edge, Firefox, Opera, etc., they just have to support WEB STANDARDS.

        Of course doing so is against their financial interests.
        And their lobbying budget all but assures a free pass from US regulators (though apparently not from the EU).

  9. Albin said on February 27, 2020 at 4:56 pm
    Reply

    On an Android tablet the website link still pimps the (150GB) Earth app. Why so big if it’s just a web portal? It is nice to have the Earth website available on Linux via browser, absent any downloadable client.

  10. Peterc said on February 27, 2020 at 5:50 pm
    Reply

    @Martin:

    “[I]t is Google’s right to create products as it pleases, and design them to favor its own products over others….”

    I doubt the EU Directorate-General for Competition would agree with you on the latter point, and rightfully so when either or both products enjoy a position of market dominance.

    Related Anecdote:

    Pale Moon users recently experienced a moment of panic when visiting YouTube. They were warned that YouTube (an Alphabet/Google “product”) would soon no longer be supported on their browser and advised to “upgrade” their browser (to Chrome, Firefox, or a couple of others I am forgetting). It turns out that Pale Moon’s developers had set Pale Moon to default to YouTube’s “old” interface because it was faster and that YouTube was ending support for the old interface. Within hours, Pale Moon’s developers released an update that changed the YouTube default from the “old” interface to the older version of the “new” interface. The warning is gone … but YouTube pages now take *dramatically* longer to load than they used to. Moreover, the “new” interface doesn’t strike me as better in any way. And that’s something I’ve noticed pretty much across the board with the “new” versions of *all* Alphabet/Google services (Gmail, Contacts, Calendar, Maps). They don’t work better or offer improved features — they just run more slowly or not as well (or at times not at all) outside of Chrome.

    When a single company has a dominant role in imposing new Web technologies, standards, and protocols, and owns the dominant Web browser, and owns a stable of dominant Web services, *and the effect is to exclude competitors*, its right to “innovate” as it pleases becomes subject to antitrust oversight. (Well … in jurisdictions where antitrust authorities haven’t been captured, corrupted, or neutered, at least.)

    1. Jason said on February 27, 2020 at 7:31 pm
      Reply

      I take your point about market dominance – and I agree – but let’s be serious here. I can just hear those Google executives talking amongst themselves: “Oh no! The EU Directorate-General for Competition is going to get us! Ahhh!”

      The EU Directorate-General for Competition fines Google amounts equivalent to a day’s (or a few hours’) revenue. This is hardly going to change corporate behaviour, particularly as the rest of the EU leadership (official and unofficial) is completely beholden to multinational business interests.

      Anyway, like I said, I get your point.

    2. Anonymous said on February 27, 2020 at 11:05 pm
      Reply

      You are right about the web standards etc. But, Google like any company has every right to choose how their own services and products will work. They can make YouTube or Google Earth to work only on Chrome without any legal issue. It’s like asking EU Directorate-General for Competition to demand Adobe to support linux.

      1. bonne43 said on February 28, 2020 at 7:03 am
        Reply

        @Anonymous

        Except some countries pass crazy laws making legal issues over nothing. As such, it’s never so clear to companies what may or may not be a legal issue down the road.

        For example, Belgium passed a law banning the selling of loot boxes in all video games, saying that it’s gambling, even though loot boxes are not gambling. But gamers don’t like loot boxes, so Belgium got away with banning them with a lie.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loot_box

        https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-49674333

    3. Peterc said on February 28, 2020 at 7:04 pm
      Reply

      @Jason:

      In the EU, DG COMP can levy fines of up to 10% of annual gross revenue. In the US, the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division can seek to have a conglomerate like Alphabet (Google) broken up and its divisions spun off into separately owned and controlled entities. Public enforcement may be at an all-time low in the US, but with two Democratic presidential candidates favoring the breakup of major tech conglomerates — the more credible of the two being the current frontrunner — that could change in relatively short order.

      @Anonymous:

      “Google like any company has every right to choose how their own services and products will work.”

      Again, under typical antitrust laws, they *do not* when the effect is to enhance or maintain a dominant market position by closing out competitors. Opponents of market regulation may *wish* that they did, and weak antitrust enforcement may make it *appear* that they do, but under black-letter antitrust law they *do not*.

      And no, it’s *not* like demanding that Adobe support Linux, because Microsoft does not own Adobe. (If, on the other hand, Microsoft granted Adobe some advantage like preferential access to development code on condition that Adobe *not* support Linux, that would be a contract or combination in restraint of trade, and both Microsoft and Adobe could get nailed for it.)

      @bonne43:

      Antitrust laws have been around since 1890 at the latest. Some cases are borderline but many are not. When Microsoft rigged Windows to make Lotus 1-2-3 crash, they *knew* what they were doing. When Alphabet/Google continually promotes new Web technologies, standards, and protocols that are supported (at least for a while) only in Google Chrome, and continually changes products/services that enjoy a dominant market position so that they run well (at least for a while) only in Google Chrome, they *know* what they are doing. This isn’t a “crazy new loot-box law” situation of unfair, arbitrary surprise. Monopolies and quasi-monopolies have been on notice for over a century that they need to be careful about the manner in which they fend off competition.

      1. Anonymous said on February 29, 2020 at 7:55 am
        Reply

        @Peterc, Yes they do. You are misunderstading the law. They can’t use a dominant product to promote another. That’s anticompetive. They have every right to limit the usage of a product. If they couldn’t Apple would be shut down because they limit their products to their ecosystem.

      2. Peterc said on March 1, 2020 at 10:13 am
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        @Anonymous: We’re talking about Google, which has a dominant position in multiple markets, including the ones at issue here (browsers and online mapping). The only market in which Apple has a dominant position is the market for Apple-ecosystem products, and they have been sued (sometimes successfully) from time to time for abusing that position (e.g., by conspiring with publishers to fix the price of Apple eBooks). But sure, Apple has escaped antitrust scrutiny for a lot of anti-competitive practices solely because it hasn’t been deemed a dominant player in any of the markets regulators have thus far chosen to define as relevant.

      3. Anonymous said on March 2, 2020 at 2:38 am
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        @Peterc, they can’t use a dominant product to promote another. The antitrust law has to do with Google using chrome as default in android to promote it, microsoft using edge as default in windows to promote it etc. That’s what the law is about, they are not (or shouldn’t) use a product to promote another. Microsoft has never legal issues for not ever supporting linux when Internet explorer’s marketshare was… 95%. They didn’t have to support it. And sites that worked only in IE didn’t get sued because they didn’t support Firefox. The anticompetive law doesn’t apply in these scenarios.

  11. VioletMoon said on February 27, 2020 at 6:06 pm
    Reply

    Not an issue–Google product maintains/reserves all rights concerning use and access.

    One doesn’t expect Chick-fil-a to offer Wendy’s products or whatever comparison one can make.

    It’s like MS Windows providing free MacOS if a customer so desires.

  12. John Fenderson said on February 27, 2020 at 6:14 pm
    Reply

    > What is your take on all of this?

    I won’t use WebAssembly stuff due to security concerns, and especially not WebAssembly stuff from Google. So this doesn’t really make any difference to me.

    When Google Earth stopped being a real application, it ceased to exist at all for my purposes.

  13. Anonymous said on February 27, 2020 at 9:52 pm
    Reply

    Who uses the crappy web version? The standalone installed version is much better.

  14. clake said on February 28, 2020 at 5:08 am
    Reply

    Works in seamonkey beta, cross browser beta mode, single thread wasm – albeit clunky..
    On the others you can upload a gpx track and have it display,

    I hope they don’t knacker the google earth application though because that is preferable for storing tracks and customizing things.

  15. whataboutit said on February 28, 2020 at 6:28 am
    Reply

    The Chrome exclusivity of Google Earth?

    You don’t need a browser to use “Google Earth”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Earth

    In fact, Google Earth Pro has been free for years, and works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

  16. Sam said on February 28, 2020 at 9:25 am
    Reply

    Google Earth is stupid. We all know the Earth is actually flat, and global climate change is just another giant mainstream media conspiracy. Just ask Donald Trump. Since Google Earth doesn’t work well on the Brave browser, I guess Brave is the browser for foolish people like me.

    1. carly said on February 29, 2020 at 6:15 am
      Reply

      Google Earth is not stupid.

      Google Earth is flat. The 3D is an illusion.

      Perhaps you suffer from a psychological disorder?

      If so, you should see a veterinarian right away.

  17. ULBoom said on February 29, 2020 at 4:31 am
    Reply

    It’s always worked in Firefox. Maybe not as well as it’s supposed to but I don’t care, stuff still looks like a fun house mirror in Chromia, too, and some of the views are weird physically impossible constructions but it’s still interesting.

    The Satellite View and measurement tools in Google Maps are more useful.

  18. Anonymous said on February 29, 2020 at 8:36 am
    Reply

    Didn’t expect that, to be honest. Especially after they also made Chromecast and Stadia Chrome-exclusive.

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