Panning and zooming around the Globe is a breeze. As you find locations of interest you easily add bookmarks or push pins to build your own personal list of "places". The mapping application is also tightly integrated with Google Search and Google local. What this means is as you search for things and provide a geographic reference, the mapping application will fly you from your current location on the map to the one you are searching for. For example, I can search for a movie in London, England, hit "Search" and I am flown over the Atlantic to a region with several "hits". Enter another search string like our company name "Spatial Media, Frederick, MD" and I am flown back to Maryland.. so cool. As you fly to a location you see small-scale imagery at a National level, however, as you descend increasingly more detailed imagery is presented based on the zoom level (or elevation). Obviously some parts of the Globe have higher resolution imagery than others so it varies. A really cool part of the search... as I get back to Frederick Maryland I not only see place names but there's also icons listed for other related "hits" like the ASPRS, EarthData International, the USGS and more. If I now click on one of "my places" like Victoria, BC, I am then presented with an option to get directions there from my current position (Frederick, MD). Obviously this would be more useful at a local level but you see what I mean.
Cool.. the "Fly to" command is loads of fun, simply enter a location on the Earth and you are flown there. Finally, a number of layers can be optionally displayed including restaurants, hotels, census data, and even historical imagery from Digital Globe... amazing!
Note: Google and others are on hand today at the Oreilly Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco and will no doubt be WOWing the crowd with a full demo as well as their future plans. I can't wait to hear more!
I was interested to read in the software license that use of any screen captures etc... is prohibited. This will be fun to enforce! Imagine Mapquest going after everyone who's posted screen captures of their maps online...
See http://earth.google.com, http://www.keyhole.com/
Have you tried Google Earth yet? Are you blown away as well?