Google Street View gets smart navigation

Google's popular and yet controversial (in some places) Street View service received a nifty update

Google's popular and yet controversial (in some places) Street View service received a nifty update this morning, in the shape of smart navigation. By now, users had to navigate through Street View using some pretty basic forward and backward arrows along the roads, but things got better now.

Smart navigation, as Google calls it, liberates users from the rudimentary road arrows Street View was using for navigation. To release this feature, Google used laser point clouds and differences between consecutive pictures to rebuild road geometry for all of the service's panoramas.

The result: users can navigate around panoramas by double clicking with the cursor on any place or object they want to see. A 3D-aware circle indicates where the pointer is on the image, which Google affectionately calls a "pancake" because of its appearance when laying flat to the object where the mouse is pointing.

You can move the "pancake" around and when double clicking on it, you will be shown the best panorama in that direction. At times, the smart navigation pancake will allow you to zoom on certain images by double clicking, showing the best view of the selected location. In case you get lost wandering around the panoramas, a helpful back icon will take you to the initial route.

The Google Street View guys made this video to better illustrate the new feature:

Meanwhile, Google's Street View has been having a few bumps down the road in Japan and Greece, where privacy advocates protested against the service. Due to this, Google will have to re-shoot Street View photographs in twelve Japanese cities.

Privacy concerns were also expressed a few weeks ago in Britain, where privacy watchdogs campaigned to close down Google Street View only days after the service was launched in the country.

Regardless, Google doesn't look like it is going to stop mapping the world's cities. The company started to gather Street View imagery from hard-to-reach areas using a tricycle. Check out the slideshow here.

Follow Daniel on Twitter @danielionescu

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Googlegoogle street viewnavigation

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Daniel Ionescu

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?