There is no Google Earth app yet for the iPhone, but Earthscape has released the next-best thing: Earthscape Basic. The app is now available in the iTunes store for $10, and puts a little globe in your pocket that you can spin around and zoom into specific locations. It shows where you are based on your GPS coordinates, and highlights locations with Wikipedia entries (and lets you read those entries as well). As cool as it looks, though, it is less functional than a preview last May suggested it would be.
Frank Taylor at the Google Earth Blog takes the app through the paces in the video above. As he points out, there is no search capability, support for standard KML data sets, or accelerometer support. So you don’t really get much more out of the app than you can already get from Google Maps on the iPhone (which comes with a pretty awesome satellite view and search). As a standalone app, you can spin the earth and scroll through landscapes faster than waiting for Google Maps to update its data over the air. Is that really worth $10? (No, but I still want it).
Update: Earthscape CEO Tom Churchill says that the app will gain more features through future upgrades:
The application itself is quite basic (hence the name), but will see a number of feature additions over the next several months, as we include suggestions for improvement from users and look to take advantage of what a virtual globe can do in a mobile context.
He also notes that while the app maintains a cache of recently seen landscape “tiles,” up to thousands of them, it does rely on the network to download new information. So it is dependent on the network for its performance, and works best with WiFi and 3G.