Google just unveiled one of their latest products, a revamped Street View app that promises to be one of the most comprehensive geographical exploration tools available. The Android and iOS app allows the user to “tour immersive 360-degree imagery and instantly contribute [their] own,” Google noted in their announcement. Through its ability to move us into unexplored worlds, the new Street View will bring the company and its users further into the growing world of augmented and virtual reality.
Remember when you could only see a subpar photo of the exterior of a building when you looked for an address? The new Street View will allow you to step off the street and see areas that you may not have access to otherwise. Not only will you be able to see interiors of hotels and restaurants, which will come in handy when making plans, but you can explore hiking trails and behold vistas halfway across the planet. And with the new app, users can share “photo spheres” (360-degree panoramas) with the entire web.
The Street View app allows you to capture these photo spheres directly from your device, though you can also connect via professional spherical cameras. This in-app camera is actually a rebranding of Google's Photo Sphere Camera app — it will include the features from the old app, but as TechCrunch points out, it will also add “an improved ability to explore photo spheres shared by others as well as browse through Google Street View collections.”
Mashable reports that to use the in-app camera, you simply “line up the camera with a central point of the frame and the app guides you as you shoot photos of the space around you.” You can then choose to make the photos private or share them with the world through Google Maps.
The app promises to open up new possibilities and functionality, too, with developers working to expand upon it. Jordan Duffy, a tech and innovation expert, believes Google’s move to integrate 360-degree images “matches their focus on immersive experiences and the incoming wave of immersive entertainment. With augmented and virtual reality on the rise, enabling user-created content is a must to start to curate a new digital world of ‘immersion’.”
So what will developers do with this new app and technology like it in the future? “It’s likely that Google will move this to other segments of their online offerings and allow the curation of new generation digital content (360-degree images, video, 3D content, etc.) to be centralized and decentralized (offered by the user),” Duffy says. He adds that our devices will provide a more three-dimensional landscape in the future: “The online digital space can no longer be just a 2D landscape, it must allow full immersion across many types of multimedia to effectively engage the user and provide a truly lifelike experience.”