Google Maps has evolved in recent years, and one its most popular features is Street View. As the Google Maps team drives, skies, hikes around the world with big 360-degree cameras, Google’s software algorithms stitch the footage together to produce first-person perspectives that make it look as though you’re right there with them.
Last year saw Google expand Street View to oceans, mountaintops, and volcanoes thanks to certified “Street View ready” 360-degree cameras. The search giant worked with various camera companies to get third-party equipment up to snuff and flesh out Street View’s mobile publishing tools. The result was 20 new 360-degree cameras tailored for capturing 360-degree images from moving vehicles with the highest possible accuracy. And this week, Google took its user contribution efforts a step further with a new prompt in the Google Maps applications. Folks with the Google Street View application installed on their phones started seeing pop-up messages about capturing 360-degree photos while driving.
It’s not like Google is asking people to pull out their phone and start recording 360-degree videos, though. Instead, it’s prompting them to connect a 360-degree camera so that the Street View app can capture images while they drive.
“Whether you’re sharing your experience at a local market or on your recent vacation, publishing high-quality, interactive imagery no longer requires significant time and effort—all you have to do is get one of the cameras, download the Street View app and start creating,” said Charles Armstrong, Product Manager at Google. “You can walk, run, bike, drive—even ride a horse—while we do the heavy lifting of connecting each frame of your video into a traditional, interactive […] experience.
Personally, Google Street View has changed the way I plan travel routes to places I have never been before. The traditional Google Maps navigation directions are great and all, but being able to jump in and see landmarks and points of interest makes planning that much easier.