Google Now Lets Users Take Street View Photos Using Smartphones

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. unmapped / ˌənˈmæpt / (adj) – not seen or represented on a map

    The farthest areas of the rural regions are mostly unmapped.

  2. up-to-date / ˈʌp təˈdeɪt / (adj) – having the latest information, methods, etc.

    I keep my computer up-to-date so that I can use it to play all the latest games.

  3. orient / ˈɔr iˌɛnt / (v) – to place something in a certain position

    The building is oriented so that it faces north.

  4. subject / ˈsʌb dʒɪkt / (adj) – under the control of or affected by something

    Lottery winnings are subject to taxes.

  5. blur / blɜr / (v) – to make something difficult to see

    The media blurred the faces of all the minors involved in the incident.


Read the text below.

Google has recently updated its Street View app to allow users to take and submit photos using their smartphones.

Street View is an online map that shows detailed, connected photos of a place that let users feel like they are walking through it. Previously, Google only accepted photos that were captured with special 360-degree cameras. With the new update, however, Android users can take and publish photos using only their smartphone cameras. The feature was first released in limited regions including Toronto, New York, Nigeria, and Indonesia, but it will be available in more places soon.

Despite collecting more than 170 billion photos and mapping almost 16 million kilometers globally, Google said that many areas still remain unmapped on Street View. The update aims to uncover these never-before-seen areas and keep Google’s database up-to-date.

To take photos for Google Street View, users simply need to open the app and start recording a series of images as they walk along a street or path. From there, Google automatically rotates, positions, and stitches the photos together.

The connected images are captured using Google’s augmented reality (AR) technology, ARCore. This technology allows a smartphone to send data from its sensors along with the photos, which help Google orient the images correctly on the map.

User-submitted Street View images are subject to the same privacy controls that Google uses on its own photos. Google blurs faces and license plates that appear in the photos that it uses. If any of the images and other content contributed by users seem to violate someone’s privacy, the photos can also be reported for review.

If a storefront is captured in the images, users can add the business’s name and address to Street View. The business’s owner can add more information like operating hours, website, and contact number later on.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree with Google’s decision to accept photos from anyone for their online map? Why or why not?
• Do you think Google should pay people who provide photos for the online map? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you think adding very detailed photos to online maps is a good thing? Why or why not?
• Do you think regular maps have any advantages over online maps? Why or why not?