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Google Maps vs. Google Earth: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 18, 2023
Google Maps is a web-based mapping service, while Google Earth is a geospatial 3D globe.

Key Differences

Google Maps is primarily a navigation and mapping tool that assists users in finding locations, directions, and traffic updates. Google Earth, on the other hand, is a program that allows users to explore a digital representation of our planet in 3D.
With Google Maps, users can access maps of cities, countries, and regions, as well as get directions for walking, driving, or public transportation. Google Earth provides a more immersive experience, showcasing satellite images, terrain, and even underwater topography.
Google Maps is commonly utilized for quick location searches, point-to-point navigation, and location reviews. Google Earth offers more in-depth exploration capabilities, such as simulating a flight over an area or exploring historical satellite data.
On Google Maps, businesses can list themselves, making it easier for customers to find them. Google Earth doesn't serve this specific business purpose but does allow users to create custom projects and stories about different locations.
While both Google Maps and Google Earth use satellite imagery, Google Maps is more optimized for route planning and location services. In contrast, Google Earth is designed for geographic exploration and storytelling.

Comparison Chart

Primary Use

Navigation and mapping
3D exploration of Earth

User Interaction

Point-to-point navigation
Zoom, pan, and fly around the globe

Business Integration

Businesses can list and get reviewed
Used for geographic storytelling

Mapping Style

2D maps with traffic, transit, and street views
3D representation with terrain and structures


Users can customize routes and save places
Users can create custom projects/stories

Google Maps and Google Earth Definitions

Google Maps

A web-based tool for navigation and location services.
Let's use Google Maps to find the quickest route to the museum.

Google Earth

A 3D representation software of the Earth using satellite imagery.
With Google Earth, I explored the Grand Canyon from my living room.

Google Maps

A platform that displays real-time traffic updates.
According to Google Maps, there's heavy traffic on the highway.

Google Earth

An application for in-depth geographical exploration.
I use Google Earth to view the changes in my hometown over the years.

Google Maps

An application offering driving, walking, and transit directions.
Google Maps showed me a shortcut to the cafe.

Google Earth

A tool that showcases historical satellite data.
The Google Earth timeline lets me see the city's growth over a decade.

Google Maps

A platform where businesses can list and get reviewed.
Look at the reviews of this restaurant on Google Maps!

Google Earth

A platform that allows users to create custom geographical projects.
For the school assignment, she made a project on Google Earth detailing rainforests.

Google Maps

A service that provides street view imagery.
I checked the building's facade on Google Maps before visiting.

Google Earth

Software that offers simulated flights over any terrain.
He took a virtual flight over the Himalayas using Google Earth.


Can businesses list on Google Maps?

Yes, businesses can list themselves and get reviewed on Google Maps.

How is Google Earth different from Google Maps?

Google Earth offers a 3D representation of Earth for exploration, while Google Maps focuses on navigation and mapping.

Can you view traffic updates on Google Earth?

No, real-time traffic updates are a feature of Google Maps.

Is Google Earth used for storytelling?

Yes, Google Earth allows users to create custom projects and stories about different locations.

What is the main purpose of Google Maps?

Google Maps primarily serves as a navigation and location service tool.

Does Google Earth provide navigation directions like Google Maps?

No, Google Earth is more for exploration rather than point-to-point navigation.

Which is better for route planning, Google Maps or Google Earth?

Google Maps is optimized for route planning and location services.

Which application lets you simulate flights over terrains?

Google Earth allows users to simulate flights over any location.

Is there a mobile version for both Google Maps and Google Earth?

Yes, both are available as mobile applications for various platforms.

Can you see street views on Google Earth as in Google Maps?

Google Earth has some street view capabilities, but Google Maps specializes in this feature.

Do both Google Maps and Google Earth require an internet connection?

While primarily online, both offer some offline features, like offline maps on Google Maps.

How do businesses benefit from Google Maps?

They can list, get directions to their location, and receive customer reviews.

Which application is older, Google Maps or Google Earth?

Google Earth was released in 2001, while Google Maps debuted in 2005.

Can you save and bookmark places on both platforms?

Yes, both Google Maps and Google Earth allow users to save and bookmark locations.

Can you integrate Google Maps into websites?

Yes, Google Maps offers APIs for integration into websites and apps.

Can you explore underwater topography on Google Maps?

Google Earth is more suitable for such exploration, showcasing underwater terrain.

Are both Google Maps and Google Earth free?

Both have free versions, but there are also premium versions with additional features.

Which tool is better for exploring a city's layout in detail?

Google Earth's 3D representation is ideal for detailed exploration.

Is Google Earth used for academic or educational purposes?

Yes, Google Earth is often used for geographical studies and educational projects.

Can you view historical imagery on Google Maps?

Historical imagery is a unique feature of Google Earth.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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