Frequently Asked Questions

What is EarthBrowser?

Released in 1997, EarthBrowser was the first virtual globe that combined 3D navigation with real time data. EarthBrowser has sold tens of thousands of copies over the past 15 years as desktop "shareware", which is now generally called freemium. After four years of development, it is finally available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

Will there be an Android version?

Maybe someday. I don't particularly enjoy coding in Java or using the Android SDK. Those reasons plus the rampant piracy on the Android platform make the effort hard to justify.

Why is EarthBrowser slow on my iPhone?

EarthBrowser has always pushed the limits of what is possible on current computing devices. If you need more speed, please turn off some of the data layers, especially clouds. I have to say that the iPhone 5 took the worst frame rate from 7 frames/sec to over 50. Please upgrade!

Why is the desktop version so different?

The iOS version is a complete rewrite of the desktop version using OpenGL and Objective-C, which are fast modern languages. The latest desktop version was released around 2007 and is written in ActionScript (Flash plugin required). Flash didn't have the native ability to render in 3D at the time so I wrote my own 3D engine. It works pretty well but with some serious limitations. I plan on releasing a new desktop version some day based on the latest code base.

When are you going to put ______ into the iPhone app?

Mobile platforms have a lot less power than desktop computers, also user interface restrictions make some features more difficult than others to implement. I plan on adding features to the iPhone app a little at a time as it makes sense and I figure out the most elegant way to integrate them.

Can I put EarthBrowser on my website?

Nope. It's actually possible but I don't have the time or energy to build that out for general consumption.

Can I put an EarthBrowser globe in my iOS app?

Someday if it makes sense. Contact me if you have a serious proposal that is more than just charity. I've got kids to feed!

Where do you get your data?

There are a number of real time data sources that my servers regularly update from. A LOT of work is going on behind the scenes to track and process the enormous amount of data we provide. We reduce it to the size and scope that a mobile app (and desktop) can reasonably handle.

Who are you?

I'm Matt Giger, an experienced software developer who has been writing software since 1978. Yep, I'm that old. I live in Portland, Oregon and am currently employed by eBay writing iOS and Android mobile apps. Mobile computing is revolutionizing not only the computer industry but society and I'm excited to be a part of that.

I graduated from
  • Reed College (B.A. Physics)
  • California Institute of Technology (B.S. Computational and Applied Mathematics)
  • University of Oregon (M.S. Computer Science)
I've worked at


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