What used to be one of the most useful aspects of Google Earth was the Panoramio Photo Layer. This imagery, provided freely by thousands of contibuters from all over the world, became a vital tool for science, environmental research and monitoring, anthropology, expedition planning and holidy planning, to mention just a few. The Panoramio Photo Layer was a fantastic archive of imagery, constisting of millions of photographs showing all aspects of life and topography from every corner of the world, many geotagged and and many accurately placed by the photographer. A few were misplaced but were so close that it didn't really cause many problems.
The wilful removal of the Panoramio Photo Layer is akin to book burning or the distruction of historic sites by terrorists in the Middle East. It a sad and ill judged act of vandalism.
The new photo layer is an extremely poor replacement for an amoazing archive. It is now purely an advertising medium, aimed at people visiting cities and tourist attractions. The icons are too big and the zoom feature of showing the icons means that the overal earth image is lost while trying t find the icons.
All images being pinned to pre-defined POIs is plainly ridiculous and impractical.
The loss of the Panoramio Photo Layer has rendered Google Earth almost useless, apart from viewing satellite imagery and that can be done with many other mapping tools, such as Bing Maps.
A total disaster for Google Earth, I am currently a user of Google Earth but only in the hope that the Panoramio Layer will be reistated. If it isn't, then I will not be using Google Earth any longer.