Feeds

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

Visual 'Wayback Machine' covers 2007 to the present

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
Class war! Wikipedia's workers revolt again
Bourgeois paper-shufflers have 'suspended democracy', sniff unpaid proles
'Aaaah FFS, 'amazeballs' has made it into the OXFORD DICTIONARY'
Plus: 'EE, how shocking, ANOTHER problem I face with your service'
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.