Google just announced you can now use Google Earth on your iPhone. This is huge.

With just a swipe of your finger you can fly from Peoria to Paris to Papua New Guinea, or anywhere in between. It may be small, but it brings all the power of Google Earth to the palm of your hand, including all of the same global imagery and 3D terrain. You can even browse any of our 8 million Panoramio photos or read Wikipedia articles.

With Google Earth for iPhone, you can:
• Tilt your iPhone to adjust your view to see mountainous terrain
• View the Panoramio layer and browse the millions of geo-located photos from around the world
• View geo-located Wikipedia articles
• Use the ‘Location’ feature to fly to your current location
• Search for cities, places and business around the globe with Google Local Search

It’s available today in 18 languages and 22 countries in the iTunes App Store.

This is a radical new way to interact with a virtual world and it blew me away when I loaded it on my iPhone.

Google Earth has always been a fantastic environment, perfect for real estate search (see Navigating a Virtual World). But it was always hampered by the mouse and click mechanics necessary with the desktop version. Pairing it with the iPhone’s amazing touchscreen and gesture recognition capabilities makes perfect sense.

While this initial release only permits certain data sources — Wikipedia and Panaramio, to name a few — imagine being able to import a property search via a KML file or better yet, layer in live neighborhood information, real estate market data or listings from Google Base.

Do that and it’s not too far of a leap to think that the iPhone or iPod touch, combined with the 3D environment presented in Google Earth, could very well become the mobile real estate search mechanism of choice.

You can download Google Earth for your iPhone or iPod touch through the iTunes App Store.

Update: A couple of tips I figured out: Use a two-finger drag up and down to tilt view vertically. Two finger twist rotates the viewing angle.

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