The blue Street View layer

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.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.






PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.

Comments

  1. Corky McButterpants says:

    Does google Earth use a different solution than google Maps for providing street view imagery?
    Earth is often so slow in Street View it becomes unusable and I end up having to use both apps side by side!

  2. “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.”

    Pretty sure that’s because you’re not seeing the classic Street View, but instead are seeing their Business/Museum Views/Zoos/Parks/etc.

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      The locations I listed except for India have genuine Street View that can be seen in Google Earth, it is just not shown in the ‘blue lines’. India does have some limited Street View but some of the blue dots may be from Google Views. As far as I know there is no technical difference between the Madagascar imagery (for example) and other Street View imagery.

  3. There are tons of sites where the blue line only appears im Maps and not in Earth.



PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.