With all of the technology available today and the rapid advancements that inevitably follow every day, it can be challenging to keep up with how to use everything. Perhaps the most essential of these modern systems is the Google Maps system and, by extension, Google Street View.
Google Maps gives users the ability to navigate the world through a system of interactive maps, and that ability goes one step further with Google Street View. Using Google Street View, users can literally walk the streets of the areas they choose to view and step inside of restaurants, stores, offices, and other places of interest.
The images that make up the virtual landscape of Google Street View are provided by both everyday users and Google’s paid staff. Some businesses and other entities pay for professional photography by Google’s trusted pros program.
Once you become familiar with its implementation, Google Street View is a fun and easy way to explore the world and review businesses before making the trip there yourself. While using Google Street View differs slightly between the many platforms it is available for, we have step-by-step instructions for every central platform listed below.
Viewing Google Street View photos is effortless with iPhone and iPad, and it works hand-in-hand with Google Maps to create a seamless user experience.
You can zoom in by making a pinching open motion on the screen. Conversely, you can zoom out by pinching your fingers together on the screen.
Just like other mobile devices, Android phones will work seamlessly with Google Maps to allow you to access Street View in any location in the world.
There are three different ways to access Google Street View from a computer. Each method is functionally the same, and it depends primarily on how you bring up the information.
You can move around by hovering your cursor over the direction you want to visit, which then turns your cursor into an arrow (also known as a “chevron.”) that visualizes the direction you’re traveling. To check your following location, look for the X.
One of the most incredible aspects of Google Street View is the ubiquity with which it is present. A tremendous number of countries worldwide, spanning every continent on the planet, have some degree of Street View information. However, the ease with which you can go to nearly any place on Earth and see close-up photos of homes and businesses can feel a little unnerving, so how do they do it?
The primary method that Google uses to capture Street View information is with their Google Street View cars. On May 25, 2007, these vehicles debuted when Google launched Street View in several major United States cities that included New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Denver, and Miami. The chances are that you may have seen one of these cars driving around over the years, as they are pretty easy to spot thanks to the camera system mounted on the vehicle roofs.
The Street View cars work by being driven throughout cities, rural areas, and everything in between, capturing photos as they go. The cameras mounted on top of these vehicles are incredibly high resolution and powerful. Once the images have been taken, they go through a computer processing system that links the photos together to create the seamless 360-degree photos that show up on Google Street View.
It is interesting to note that in 2007 when this technology debuted, the cameras were only capable of taking 2.8-megapixel photos, which modern smartphones easily surpass. For context, the first iPhone was released only a month after Street View, which indicates the level of technology readily available at the time.
The systems that Google has implemented have driven this technology, and seven years after they debuted Street View, 360-degree cameras became more readily available, and cameras like the Ricoh Theta m15 allowed this technology to enter the consumer market.
As time has passed and camera equipment has continued to develop, Street View cameras have evolved and continued to grow. While there are still many Google Street View cars out on the roads capturing imagery, these cameras have made their way onto other platforms like the Street View Trike and Snowmobile, as well as backpack-mounted cameras to allow people on foot to capture Street View data.
Google has stated that they would like to map out as much of the world as possible, but they cannot capture the entire globe themselves. This limitation is why they encourage contributions from other people to update Street View data and capture new images as well.
Some remote locations or countries that are too small to have their own dedicated Google Street View cars receive most of their information from volunteers mapping out entire cities on their own. Places like Tonga, Bermuda, and Zimbabwe have all been explored entirely by volunteer photographers.
The addition of the alternate vehicles and camera mounting options listed above is a large part of why Google has managed to capture many locations worldwide. However, some places like Germany have stringent privacy laws that inhibit Google from publishing many Street View photos.
Take a look at this map to see how Google has expanded its coverage of the planet. While there are many countries and parts of the world that remain uncaptured, as Google continues to grow, it is only a matter of time before you can navigate the entire globe from the comfort of your chair.
Use this guide whenever you need a refresher on all of the details for traveling throughout Google Street View. Get out there and start exploring!