Google Earth itself still has merit, mind you. The stand-alone application still supports KML files, oc+ean, sky and even Mars views, historical layers and that oh-so-nifty flight simulator, among other advantages. But if you're looking to get a new look at a destination — like, say, what that Eyjafjallajokull volcano looked like in less eruptive times — or skim an area with an angular satellite view, Maps' own Earth view is all you need.
Using Earth View requires the installation of a browser plug-in that is, at the moment, available for Windows and Mac. Chrome users may not need to install the plug-in, but I seemed to require it in Windows.
Earthly pleasures come to Maps [Official Google Blog]