It’s pretty easy to take Google Street View for granted. After all it’s been around since 2007, and for everyday navigation and destination finding it is genuinely miraculous. Only a mad company would actually consider photographing the world’s streets and making them available to everyone for free, right? But they did it.
But what we like most of all are the 3rd party add-on services which have sprung up to make use of the images in clever ways. These services offer us cubicle dwellers a chance to step outside the building and literally travel the world one click at a time, and they’re absolutely incredible. And time consuming.
So if you have a few hours to fritter away, here’s our choice of the top three innovative Google Street View travel sites.
The creator of this idea deserves top marks for presentation and absolute fun value. The site offers a click and visit browse through the Google views, but with a difference. This one actually also takes us inside interiors of locations, using services like the walking Street View cameras and the Business Photos service. The result is a fascinating tour around the globe, inside and outside, taking in everything from the Oval Office in the USA to baboons in a hot spring in Japan. Each vista is fully navigable, so you can wander around and really take in the whole picture so to speak. Totally wonderful.
One of our all time favorites, this again offers an easy to use click and browse tour across the globe. Who needs travel agents, when you’ve got this? The unique thing about this site is the fact that you can specify detailed tours you want to take, ranging from urban only, to interiors and even a magical mystery tour which hides the location to keep you guessing. You can also set up an automatic slideshow tour based around your criteria, but to our mind this takes away from the fun of actually looking around wherever you land. It does save clicking though, and you can set the delay time between moves to give enough time to wander.
The latest on the block is this new innovative service, which is not so much a browse and tour tool, but rather an automated tour maker, which lets you create and enjoy timelapse journeys through Street View settings that you select. It desperately needs a speed dial to adjust the velocity of your chosen journey, but we love the idea that you can set your own custom viewpoint camera which will then deliver the vista you want as the journey unfolds. It makes the whole thing so much more of a real tour. It only works with the very latest browsers (Chrome and Firefox are top picks) and you’ll need a decent computer to enjoy it best. One to bookmark for future developments.