Earlier this week the Google Earth team released a new plugin that allows users to view Google Earth tours directly from their web browsers. These tours, which were introduced in the 5.0 release of Google Earth in February, allow users to create virtual flythroughs through any location on Google Earth, which can lead to some pretty impressive results. Google has compiled a handful of the best tours in this gallery, which includes a reenactment of the historic Flight 1549 landing in the Hudson and a whirlwind tour through San Francisco.
The plugin weighs in at a hefty 30 MB (80 megabytes after installing on a Mac), so it can hardly be considered lightweight. But the functionality is impressive, and could definitely be used in a variety of innovative ways now that the tours have been freed from the Google Earth desktop client. I image news organizations could use the tours to help liven up online reports (tours can include audio voiceovers), and travel companies could use them to help showcase where their tour packages will take their customers.