Feeds

Google adds a sense of history to Street View with archive footage

Visual 'Wayback Machine' covers 2007 to the present

Top three mobile application threats

Google is adding historical images to its Street View image library so that users can step backwards and forwards through time and track development from when the Chocolate Factory cameras cars last rolled by.

"If you’ve ever dreamt of being a time traveler like Doc Brown, now’s your chance," wrote Vinay Shet, Google Street View manager, in a blog post.

"Starting today, you can travel to the past to see how a place has changed over the years by exploring Street View imagery in Google Maps for desktop. We've gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world."

Desktop users will see a clock icon in the top left corner of the Street View screen as the archive tool is rolled out. Clicking it gives a scrolling timeline of what imagery Google has to hand from the Street View archive.

Some of the images in the archive actually date from well before 2007. Google released Street View on May 25, 2007, but its spymobiles had been crisscrossing the highways of the US for some time before that to gather the initial images. Europe started getting mapped a year later, and Google cars have now been on the roads of over 50 countries taking street-life snapshots.

Google has also been moving Street View cameras onto bicycles and backpacks to catalog parts of the world inaccessible to the automobile, such as inside the Large Hadron Collider or a British Navy submarine.

But there have been plenty of stumbles along the way. It turns out that some people get really touchy when they are photographed. The Chocolate Factory got hit with lawsuits almost immediately after launching Street View, and it had a major kerfuffle with the EU that prompted it to blur out human faces.

There was also the infamous collection of Wi-Fi data that Google's cars slurped up – accidentally, according to the company's explanation. Google paid a few minor fines and deleted the data, although it's still appealing its US settlement. But bad feelings remain, and some of Google's Street View cars have been vandalized as a result.

That's not to say Street View hasn't provided some chuckles, too. There have been some memorably bizarre scenes captured for posterity, ranging from the embarrassing to the superhuman. Street View drivers are usually hired on a contract basis and are sworn to secrecy about their routes, but it's obvious a few people are getting forewarned.

Google has said it will be rolling out the "time travel" service shortly, which history suggests will mean a limited release in the US while server loads and last minute bugs are ironed out, then gradual worldwide access. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.