As a professional researcher/writer I'm dismayed that Google Earth has banished Panoramio photos and replaced them with their new Photos Layer. Why? Oh let me count the ways.
Here's an image of downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
See all the little squares? Those indicate Panoramio photos. See the big circles? Well, those are the new Photos Layer images. Why did Google choose to use big circles? They clutter the map. And that fact that they act as a sort of thumbnail is, frankly, meaningless, because they suck at being thumbnails.
Here's another deficiency with new the Photos Layer:
Note that when you click on the Panoramio icon you get a title that tells you, in this case, that it's a piece of public art. Click on a Photos Layer circle and you get zero, zilch, nada, in the way of a descriptor. You have to open the image to see what it is. Why the extra step?
Here's another example - Ulithi Atoll in Yap State, Federated States of Micronesia.
There are 14 Panoramio photos, but only two Photos Layer. Sure, it's early in the Photos Layer roll-out, so more may come. But in the meantime my ability to go down and see what the islands look like - the houses, the beaches, the lagoon - is now gone.
That ability to see what a location looks like is really important to me. It's one thing to get a bird's eye view, but to see that place as a resident or visitor might - at eye level - helps me to develop a "sense of place," and to me, as a writer, that's priceless.
In their infinite wisdom the young coders at Google have seen fit to remove a valuable resource from Google Earth. Okay, maybe there was a technical reason. But that does not excuse the truly lousy replacement for Panoramio they put in place.
I welcome your comments on Photos Layer - maybe we can even get Google to listen.
If this post was helpful or interesting to you, please let me know. I’m always looking for ways to improve the blog.
Disclaimer: The descriptions of web pages are accurate as of the date of the post. Like everything else in this digital world of ours, they can change in the blink of an eye.