Throughout the years, Google has been building out Street View through a fleet of cars that have photographed a ton of roadways from all different angles, but it seems that even a company as big as Google has its limitations. That’s why today it announced that it’s opening up contributions to Street View from anyone with an Android phone.
While that might not match the true Street View experience of driving a car equipped with 360-degree cameras, it will allow Google users to contribute photographs of less-travelled places to pad out Street View’s offerings. Those with an Android phone running the updated Street View app will find a “connected photos tool” that lets them to record images for Street View as they walk along a street or a path.
All users need to do is record their view as they travel, with ARCore and Google getting the images ready for Street View from there. After the images have been uploaded, ARCore automatically rotates and positions what was captured to create a series of connected images like the ones you normally see in Street View. Then the images are uploaded to Street View within Google Maps for all the other users to see.
This new feature will particularly handy for Google in its quest to map the world, because even though its Street View cars have accomplished a lot, there are still a bunch of places where they can’t easily go. Aside from that, there are also places that change frequently, so Street View data that Google records itself could be outdated a short period of time later. By letting users capture and upload Street View data with a smartphone, Street View becomes a little more immune to featuring outdated photographs.
Google says that user-submitted content on Street View will be identified with a blue dotted line, and in cases where Google itself has captured imagery for an area, that be shown as the primary Street View content and identified with a solid blue line. For now, the connected photos feature in launching in beta in just a few regions around the world – Toronto, Ontario; New York, New York; Austin, Texas; Nigeria; Indonesia; and Costa Rica – with more regions coming online in the future.