Being interested in maps in general, and specifically vector data, of course I had to take the new Google Maps for a spin. Vector data aside, what fascinated me most was the option to display photos of the current location in the bottom of the screen. Seeing actual photos is incredibly more useful than being shown 100 identical icons indicating that someone took a photo of something here.
Using this new show-photos-of-your-current-location feature, I panned to Saint Petersburg. There I laid eyes on the most beatiful ship I have seen in a long time, the Aurora!
There is even an arrow from the thumbnail pointing to the location on the map, of the thing you are looking at. As an academic sidenote, any real photograph depicts more than a single point on a map (unless you are infinitely close to the object when photographing it). Also I expect the, probably crowd-sourced points, to be off in some cases. But who cares! This is neo-geography, it's all about value, not about precision.
Coming back to vector data, the new Google Maps has another feature I really like. The feature that is soo obvious, and it is strange that it has been missing for so long. That you can click on objects on the map, and get useful information about the thing you clicked on. Of course you can't click on every single coordinate and get useful information. I'm guessing that places get a clickable icon if some credible web source has something interesting to say about it.
Here is me clicking on stuff willy-nilly in Samarkand.
A negative comment is that I now have no idea (after trying for about 10 seconds, which is my budget for these types of things) of how to share a place that I'm looking at with a friend by getting a direct link that I can paste in an email. My immidiate feeling was that this quite useful feature had to wait in the dressing room, while the flashy new features were on stage. Hope it comes back in a form that is even more awesome than before (ok, getting a link to the current location is perhaps more useful than awesome to be honest).
To sum up my experience, I feel like a little boy again, flipping through the pages of my parents atlas. Wondering about all the magnificent places one can visit on Earth. Thanks for that, Google!