Google has now enabled users to create their own Street View imagery to share and make visible to people using Google Maps. Now the amount of Street View imagery available is going to grow tremendously, offering a lot more to people looking to check out areas of the world they intend to travel to or just want to look at from afar.
Users will no longer only see one version of what a location has to offer. Obviously a variety of factors can affect the scenery, and because of Google's latest offering, users will have the opportunity to see a wider variety of conditions for any given place.
"We are excited to see the different types of Street View experiences that everyone will contribute," says Google product manager Evan Rapoport. "For example, this feature can now enable environmental non-profits to document and promote the beautiful places they strive to protect. It also opens up a new tool for photographers to showcase diversity in a specific location -- by times of day, weather conditions or cultural events -- in a way that Street View currently doesn’t cover."
The feature comes as part of the Views offering Google launched earlier this year, enabling users to make their "photo spheres" available via Google Maps.
Views lets users showcase their work and plot photos on Google Maps. The new offering is a tool that stitches the photos together to create 360º Street View imagery. Users create their photo spheres, share them on Views, select the spheres from their profile, and the tool will connect them together. Once connected and published, others can navigate between them on Google Maps just like regular Street View. They can also be kept private if the user prefers. Google calls the stitched-together collections "constellations".
You can get a step-by-step walkthrough for creating constellations here. You may have to do some dragging and dropping and rotating of imagery. Google gives users a few tips, such as only connecting spheres that can be navigated in real life (this isn't Inception). Don't, for example, connect photo spheres that cross walls, buildings, etc. It's also worth noting that removing a photos sphere from a constellation does not delete the sphere. More on photo sphere management here.
"We hope this new feature will enable people to share and witness the beauty and breadth of our planet through Google Maps," says Rapoport. "Whether you’re photographing exotic islands or your favorite neighborhood hangout, mountain peaks or city streets, historic castles or your own business, we’re thrilled to see the places you love coming to life on Google Maps."
The Street View experiences that you create are embeddable, so you can share them wherever you like.
Google has been working hard to gain Street View imagery in more exotic (and practical) locations, employing various pieces of equipment (like trikes and Trekkers). Giving users the ability to contribute with their phones and cameras, however, is bound to increase Google's photographic coverage in ways that even the search giant is unable to get on its own.