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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Expanded Google Street View Imagery

Google announced they about doubled the scope of their Google Maps Street View imagery, bringing it to many new locations including Springfield, Atlanta, Knoxville, Reno and others. Also, some old imagery has been expanded or updated, and Google also says they’ve rolled out their face blurring technology to all pics*. You can also now look upwards in all of their images, Google says, and looking down also won’t result in you seeing their Street View car or other obstacles.

At the moment, the Google Maps panorama photos are still only available for the US, but Street View cars were spotted in several other locations – like in Italy or France – so we may expect to find new countries added one of these days.

[Thanks Mbegin!]

*Unfortunately I can’t see Google Maps correctly on this computer so I can’t test this.

Update: Keir comments, “Google have also replaced the higher resolution imagery in San Francisco with lower resolution imagery and cheekily announced it as an improvement in image quality.” I asked Google whether they lowered their quality, but while they don’t give a specific answer they say “there are several factors that contribute to quality” and that they improved things “such as lighting, color, and presence of artifacts.” I’m currently seeing 3 zoom levels for San Francisco, when there were 4 in the past, judging from older screenshots. [Thans Keir, Mapper and Tom!]

Update 2: While some in the comments speculate there might also have been privacy pressures involved which caused the lower amount of zoom levels in some locations (I don’t know either way), Google follows up with this statement: “The imagery of San Francisco ... is updated, containing more recent imagery, and addressing issues such as geometric artifacts, image stitching, lighting, and discoloration. To gather this new, high-quality imagery, we deployed a new camera system which provides lower resolution but ultimately allows for a high-quality, realistic experience and new features, such as being able to both pan up and pan down.”


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