Google has officially announced a Connected Photos Mode add-on for Google Street View, allowing users to add photos of their travels without the need for a panoramic camera. We first reported on the feature last month, when it was spotted in testing under the name “Driving Mode”, but this morning, Google’s Keyword Blog took the covers off its official launch.
The service is made possible using Google’s AR-Core functionality, which is able to stitch together multiple photos on the fly, and match up overlapping photos, even if they were taken by different users at different times. The result is that users can contribute to the 360-degree panoramas of the Street View service, without the need of a mapping car, or even a 360-degree camera. Instead, AR-Core stitches everyone’s photos together and uses them to plug holes in its own data.
In the blog, Google explains that “Now that anyone can create their own connected Street View photos, we can bring better maps to more people around the world, capturing places that aren’t on Google Maps or that have seen rapid change. All you need is a smartphone—no fancy equipment required. ”
Public contributions to Google Street View are, in and of themselves, nothing new. The big change here is that, for the first time, there’s no special camera required, and Google will accept that would have previously been considered “incomplete”. Where Google has already mapped an area, that will appear as the primary source. If your view switches to a contributed view, this will be delineated by a blue dotted line.
To begin with, the service is available to users of AR-Core compatible devices in Toronto, Canada; New York, NY; Austin, TX; Nigeria; Indonesia and Costa Rica, with more regions being added ‘soon’. To access it, simply check you have the latest update for the Google Street View app, pop your phone in a dashboard-mounted phone holder, and map the world!
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