Google Earth’s ability to provide a visually compelling view of the world’s terrain, cities, oceans, weather data, treks, and more never ceases to amaze me. It looks like Google has added another way for users to view the world in Google Earth: panoramic photos.
Google Earth now includes a Photo layer which will allow users to find 2D photos taken from Panoramio (a photo community Google acquired in 2007), as well as panoramic photos sourced from 360cities.net, which collects panoramic photography on the web. Google had previously integrated 360 Cities into Google Earth under the Gallery layer, but this appears to be a deeper integration of the photos into the viewing experience.
In Google Earth, the panoramic photos from 360 Cities are marked with red square icons and the photos from Panoramio are marked with a blue icon. If you click the icon, you’ll be shown a bubble with a panoramic image. You can click again to see a larger version of the panoramic image in photo viewing mode.
360 Cities has a pretty vast database of panoramic photos thanks to its vibrant community of photographers and travelers. The new photo layer not only allows you to get an immersive view of a city or landmark, but it could save you from buying a plane ticket as well.