In 2017, Google canned its standalone Google Earth desktop apps while moving the service to the web. The problem was, it only worked with Google’s own Chrome browser. Now the company has added support for Edge, Firefox, and Opera, with Apple’s Safari being the only big-name browser that isn’t supported.
Safari support needs Apple’s buy-in — There are plans to add support for Apple’s browser, but to do so, the maker of macOS and iOS is going to have to add more comprehensive browser support for the WebGL2 standard upon which Google Earth relies, The Verge reports.
Google’s been working to bring Google Earth to other browsers for years, and the current version of follows six months of public beta. According to a blog post announcing the move, it’s been made possible by moving Google Earth for Chome onto the open standard WebAssembly. It was previously built using Native Client (NaCI) that only supported Chrome.
That’s been possible because so much has changed about how the web works in recent years, with open standards like WebAssembly now able to do things in-browser that were previously impossible.
Openness is good for keeping lawsuits at bay — With various looming antitrust cases, it’s not only altruism motivating Google to keep its web-based products browser-agnostic. Failure to do so could see it slapped with sizable fines. That hasn’t stopped it trying to discourage people from defecting from Chrome to Microsoft’s recently revamped, Chromium-based Edge browser. Supporting other browsers may be expedient, but that doesn’t mean the advertising behemoth actually wants people to use them.