Google Street View Is About to Get Way More Immersive — Here's How

Google Street View is celebrating its 15th anniversary with new features and ways to use the platform.

It's been 15 years since Google debuted its Street View feature on maps, and the company is celebrating by allowing users to step back in time.

"Fifteen years ago, Street View began as a far-fetched idea… to build a 360-degree map of the entire world," Google wrote in a statement. "Fast forward to today: There are now over 220 billion Street View images from over 100 countries and territories — a new milestone — allowing people to fully experience what it's like to be in these places right from their phone or computer."

Starting this week, Android and iOS users can travel back in time up to 15 years — to the start of Street View — allowing them to see how landscapes have changed over the past decade-plus, according to Google. To use the new feature, people can tap anywhere on a Street View photo to see information and then click "see more dates" to access historical imagery.

In addition to watching cities change over time, Google is enhancing its Street View feature by mapping even more areas with a new, portable camera that weighs less than 15 pounds and can get to areas previously unreachable by a Street View car.

The company also offers travelers a "live view" feature, allowing them to "see" arrows and directions in the world around them. And later this year, Google plans to launch a new "immersive view" feature, which will allow users to "virtually soar" over cities and landmarks for an overview before zooming in to street level for more detailed information. Travelers will also be able to use "the time slider to check out what the area looks like at different times of day and in various weather conditions, and see where the busy spots are."

Eventually, Google plans to launch "immersive view" in Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo.

Google Maps also helps travelers navigate the pandemic by displaying COVID-19 case numbers, while users searching Google for things like flights will see any COVID-19-related travel advisories or restrictions for the destination they're searching.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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