Navigating the Streets of Google is Now Easier

    June 4, 2009
    Chris Crum

Google has introduced new navigations improvements for Google Maps Street View. These improvements are collectively being referred to as Smart Navigation.

The main improvement is the ability to navigate by simply double clicking on a place or object you want to see, as opposed to having to use the arrows displayed on the roads like before. "We have been able to accomplish this by making a compact representation of the building facade and road geometry for all the Street View panoramas using laser point clouds and differences between consecutive pictures."

As you’re navigating though Street View, you will now see a shaded oval around your cursor when you’re following a road, and a shaded rectangle when you’re moving across the facades of buildings. Google refers to the shapes as the "pancake."

Google Street View Pancake

While you’re looking at those buildings, by the way, you will be able to zoom in on some of them more thanks to Google’s overlaying of user photos as announced a while back.

If you double click the "pancake" it transports you to the best panorama in that direction. For example, if you click the front door of the building in the image above, you will get a view like this:

Street View building

In some cases, the "pancake" will show a small magnifying glass indicating that double clicking will let you zoom in. You can also click the return arrow to get back to the previous location.

Google has posted some interactive examples of the new navigation on their Lat Long Blog here. The improvements are certainly an upgrade to the Google Maps Street View service. For more about how the photos are selected for the overlays, go here.