Thank you to GEB reader Chris for letting us know about a problem with the blue Street View layer. It appears that some locations that have Street View do not show the blue lines that normally appear when you use the ‘yellow man’ and hover it over the map.
The location Chris mentioned is Guam, an island in the Pacific. We did some experimenting and discovered an interesting trick to use with the Street View layer. To see the blue outlines, you need to zoom in until the ‘yellow man’ appears in the Google Earth controls. However, if you hover the ‘yellow man’ above the map, and don’t let go of the mouse button, it is possible to zoom back out using the ‘-‘ key and you will still see the blue outlines. We use a Space Navigator which makes it even easier. If you do have a Space Navigator or other controller you can trick Google Earth into keeping the Street View layer on by switching to another program (Alt-Tab in Windows, Command-Tab on Mac) while hovering the ‘yellow man’ over the map. When you switch back, as long as you don’t click anywhere on the map you can move around with the controller without the Street View layer turning off – although we have found this trick is a bit inconsistent and doesn’t always work.
We have seen in the past (Different Zoom – Different Imagery, Historical imagery and zoom) Google Earth shows different imagery depending on the zoom level. It turns out that the Street View layer is no exception and goes through distinct levels of detail as you zoom, very similar to the way it does in Google Maps.
We found that for the islands of Guam and neighbouring Northern Mariana Islands when zoomed in there is are no indications that they have Street View, but when you zoom nearly all the way out, they do show a patch of blue.
Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands (red arrow) do indicate the existence of Street View when zoomed nearly all the way out.
Zoom in a bit and the Daitō Islands(1) and the Ogasawara Islands(2) indicate they have Street View, but similarly sized Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands(3) do not.
We found a number of other places where the blue outlines do not show except when zoomed nearly all the way out, even though there is Street View available. These include areas in Madagascar, Tanzania, South Georgia and India.
India is particularly interesting, as the blue pattern changes quite significantly at different zoom levels.
We also found that at higher zoom levels the blue was out of alignment – most noticeable if you zoom all the way out as far as possible, as seen above.
It would be useful if Google were to make the blue outlines a proper layer that could be turned on in the ‘layers’ panel, as that would generally make it easier to find Street View in Google Earth.
Also, we forgot to mention in our last Street View update post that the US territory of American Samoa got Street View imagery in May. Thank you to GEB reader Kyle for alerting us to it.