Street View for Google Maps launched 15 years ago this week and Google is taking advantage of the anniversary to release some updates, including a major update to its Street View map hardware. The one thing most people will enjoy right away is the ability to “go back in time” in Street View using Google Maps for Android or iOS. This feature has been available on the web for a while, but is being added to the Maps app for the first time. Accessing this historical data is quite simple: just go to Street View and tap anywhere on the image to view details about the location. After that, you’ll find the ‘see more dates’ option that will pull up all other Street View shots for the location.
Obviously, this only works for locations where Google has a lot of historical Street View data, so what you can find will vary greatly by location. Google says how often it scans areas for Street View depends on factors such as how often the area changes, how popular it is, and how difficult it is to get there. Street View was first launched in San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Miami, and Denver, so those places have the oldest historical records for the curious.
For those interested in the hardware Google uses to get Street View data, the company is announcing a major update to its camera system. Google says the new camera (pictured above) has all the resolution and processing capabilities found in the full Street View car, but it’s a 15-pound device that’s “about the size of a house cat.” The company hopes this will make it easier to get data from underexposed parts of the world; one such place that Google gave was the Amazon jungle.
A camera system this small, relatively speaking, will be a lot easier for Google to deploy in more areas – it can be shipped anywhere and mounted on any type of vehicle. As long as it has a roof rack, Google says it’s good to go. Google says it has historically had to make completely new camera systems to fit any area they wanted to capture, but the new camera is modular and customizable.
It will serve as the “base” system to which it can be added as circumstances require. For example, Google notes that the new camera doesn’t have the lidar scanners normally found in Street View cars driving in cities, but can be added when needed. Google says the new camera system is now being tested and expects to be fully rolled out in 2023.
Finally, Google is adding four new collections of Street View images from some pretty notable locations. The Pyramids of Meroe in Sudan, the Duomo in Milan, Les Invalides in Paris and the Sydney Ferries in Australia (the latter coming later this year). The Duomo in particular shows the inside of Italy’s largest cathedral as well as the outside, while a virtual tour of Les Invalides in Paris is available. Visit Google’s blog for direct links to view these new sites.
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