Street View turns 15 with a new camera and fresh features
Fifteen years ago, Street View began as a far-fetched idea from Google co-founder Larry Page to build a 360-degree map of the entire world. Fast forward to today: There are now over 220 billion Street View images from over 100 countries and territories — a new milestone — allowing people to fully experience what it’s like to be in these places right from their phone or computer. And Street View doesn't just help you virtually explore, it’s also critical to our mapping efforts — letting you see the most up-to-date information about the world, while laying the foundation for a more immersive, intuitive map.
While that’s all worth celebrating, we aren’t stopping there. Today, we’re unveiling Street View’s newest camera, giving you more ways to explore historical imagery, and taking a closer look at how Street View is powering the future of Google Maps.
Bringing Street View to more places with our newest camera
From the back of a camel in the Arabian desert to a snowmobile zipping through the Arctic, we’ve gotten creative with the ways we’ve used Street View cameras to capture imagery. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that our world changes at lightning speed. Our hardware is one way we’re able to keep up with the pace.
In addition to our Street View car and trekker, we’re piloting a new camera that will fully roll out next year to help us collect high-quality images in more places. This new camera takes all the power, resolution and processing capabilities that we’ve built into an entire Street View car, and shrinks it down into an ultra-transportable camera system that’s roughly the size of a house cat. But unlike house cats, it’s ready to be taken to remote islands, up to the tops of mountains or on a stroll through your local town square.
Here’s a quick look at our new camera system:
- It weighs less than 15 pounds. This means it can be shipped anywhere. This is especially handy when we work with partners around the world to capture imagery of traditionally under-mapped areas — like the Amazon jungle.
- It’s extremely customizable. Previously, we needed to create an entirely new camera system whenever we wanted to collect different types of imagery. But now, we can add on to this modular camera with components like lidar — laser scanners — to collect imagery with even more helpful details, like lane markings or potholes. We can add these features when we need them, and remove them when we don’t.
- It can fit on any car. Our new camera can be attached to any vehicle with a roof rack and operated right from a mobile device — no need for a specialized car or complex processing equipment. This flexibility will make collections easier for partners all over the world, and allow us to explore more sustainable solutions for our current fleet of cars — like plug-in hybrids or fully electric vehicles. You’ll start seeing our new camera in fun Google colors alongside our iconic Street View cars and trekkers next year.
Traveling back in time with Street View 🕰️
Street View is all about capturing the world as it changes, and it’s also a powerful way to reminisce about the past. Starting today on Android and iOS globally, it’s now easier than ever to travel back in time right from your phone. Here’s how it works:
When you’re viewing Street View imagery of a place, tap anywhere on the photo to see information about the location. Then tap "See more dates" to see the historical imagery we’ve published of that place, dating back to when Street View launched in 2007. Browse each of the images to see a digital time capsule that shows how a place has changed — like how the Vessel in New York City’s Hudson Yards grew from the ground up.
Building a more helpful, immersive map 🗺️
Street View is also an essential part of how we map the world. Here’s a look at how imagery helps us do that:
- Updates to business information that reflect your changing world. We use Street View imagery coupled with AI to make helpful updates to Google Maps — such as adding newly opened businesses, surfacing new hours at your favorite restaurants and updating speed limit information. In fact, over the last three years, AI has helped us make over 25 billion updates to Maps so you can be confident that the information you’re seeing is as fresh and up-to-date as possible.
- Easier than ever navigation, indoors and out. Street View imagery powers popular features like Live View, which allows you to use your phone’s camera to overlay navigation instructions on top of the real world so you can walk to your destination in a snap.
- Immersive view helps you know before you go. Thanks to advances in computer vision and AI over the last several years, we’re able to fuse together billions of Street View and aerial images to create a rich, digital model of places around the world. With our new immersive view launching later this year, you can easily glide down to street level on Maps and even check out the inside of a business as if you were walking around.
In celebration of Street View’s birthday, you’ll have the opportunity to make your navigation icon a celebratory Street View car – just tap the chevron when you’re in driving navigation. And on desktop, our beloved Pegman – who you can pick up and drop anywhere in Maps to see Street View – will be dressed up in a birthday hat and balloons for the celebration.
To keep the celebration going, check out our newest collections of places like The Pyramids of Meroë in Sudan and Les Invalides in France, popular spots to explore with Street View and some of our all-time favorite Street View images to date. Oh the places you’ll go! 🎈