Major Street View Upgrade – 3D Features

Google has just released an update to their Street View application – as viewed in the browser-based Google Maps (not yet available in Google Earth). The update has not yet been announced, and the new features may not be deployed to all country versions of Google Maps yet (based on reports I’ve had from GEB readers). [UPDATE: Announced by Google here]. When you move your mouse around the view in Street View, you now get a “3D” rectangle or ellipse “icon” indicating the position of a view available on the sides of buildings (and other structures), or to move you further down the street. When you double-click you get this animated motion-blur effect as you zoom over to that location and the camera turns to face the location you’ve picked (turns and tilts). This is a very intuitive, and much more useful, way to move within the Street View imagery. Plus, it looks really cool!
Here is the introductory video from Google:

Or, you can try it out right here:

View Larger Map
Sometimes the view you pick may or may not accurately point the camera at the place you pick. Not sure if this is an algorithm problem or what. But, for the most part it gives a much more pleasing experience compared to the previous interface.
Keir Clarke points out this could mean new business opportunities within the Street View. We already have ways to search our maps, taking it to the dynamic level of moving your mouse over a view of a building and getting a hyperlink to the business will surely happen. It is inevitable. I believe the same thing will happen in Google Earth – in some ways it already happens – if you turn on the 3D Buildings layer you can often select a building and get information about the building. But, there needs to be even more database integration to tie the location of buildings to the businesses located there. I’m sure Google is working on it.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. I’m very impressed with this! This makes Street View way more useful. One thing you didn’t mention is the addition of a compass – something I’ve wanted in Street View for a long time.

  2. WOW very nice!!!
    PS: I saw the google car in Bruges, Belgium one month ago… I guess the next country is Belgium 🙂

  3. Potentially useful to navigate around SV more speedily. But I have being trying it out in a area where the SV ‘street centre’ lines don’t follow the images too well and its tricky to stop the jump ellipses (on the centre line) turning into zoom rectangles (off the centre line) and wonder if there is an option to turn one of the other off.

  4. Ricardo Cunha says:

    Great new features. Smarter traveling is awesome but there should be a way to make street view more interactive and “as real as it gets”. By interactive I mean features like panorama tagging ( hovering the mouse over a building floor informs what businesses exist there) and by “as real as it gets” I mean being able to create a video game GTA look alike from the panoramas. There is on the net an c++ advanced panorama viewer made by someone that gives an idea of what it would be like. Cheers and stay cool 😉

  5. Jon Britton says:

    I also like the idea of Street View tagging. Proper integration into My Maps would be great! Think of the cool tours etc you could create…

  6. smokeonit says:

    And this new feature is taking advantage of the 3 SICK laser scanners mounted on the Googlenetta’s camera pole! If you pay close attention you notice that the objects like walls, trees, or any other physical object is having an effect on the location and distance of the zoom icon/tool…!!!

  7. smokeonit says:

    Simone: it takes at least 6 months when a new country is scanned…!
    Aelgium, Austria, Switzerland are scanned right now…
    Germany is the next country to go live, it was supposed to go live in may, but it seems it will be june or july…

  8. Hallo,
    just saw that Disneyland Paris got Streetview.
    Greetings from Germany

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