Google Street View is a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth that provides interactive panoramas from positions along many streets in the world. It was launched in 2007 in several cities in the United States, and has since expanded to include all of the country's major and minor cities, as well as the cities and rural areas of many other countries worldwide. Streets with Street View imagery available are shown as clickable blue lines on Google Maps.

Google Street View
Initial releaseMay 25, 2007; 17 years ago (2007-05-25)
Stable release(s) [±]
Android2.0.0.387140768 / August 9, 2021; 2 years ago (2021-08-09)[1]
iOS2.17.3 / May 17, 2021; 3 years ago (2021-05-17)[2]
OnlineRelease 299 (see list) / November 7, 2023; 7 months ago (2023-11-07)
PlatformAndroid, iOS, web
Available inMultiple languages

Google Street View displays interactively panoramas of stitched VR photographs. Most photography is done by car, but some is done by tricycle, camel, boat, snowmobile, underwater apparatus, and on foot.


Google Street View car in Germany

Street View had its inception in 2001 with the Stanford CityBlock Project, a Google-sponsored Stanford University research project. The project ended in June 2006, and its technology was folded into Street View.[3] The technology was launched on May 25, 2007, in the United States.

In May 2008, Google announced that it was testing face-blurring technology on its photos of the streets of Manhattan.[4] The technology uses a computer algorithm to search Google's image database for faces and blur them.[5] Street View was integrated into Google Earth 4.3, the Maps application on the Apple iPhone, and the Maps application for the S60 3rd Edition. In November, the drag-and-drop Pegman icon was introduced as the primary user interface element for connecting from Maps' 2D view into Street View's 3D view. When Pegman is dropped onto a particular set of coordinates in Google Maps for which Street View data is available, Street View opens and takes over the whole map window.

In 2009, a full-screen option and Smart Navigation were introduced. Smart Navigation allows users to navigate around the panoramas by double-clicking with their cursor on any place or object they want to see.[6] In May 2011, indoor views of businesses (Google Business Photos) were announced.[7] After the pilot phase of several months, the project was rolled out in autumn.[8]

With the release of Android 4.2 in November 2012, Google invites users to contribute panoramas of their own using supported devices. Google highlights user-contributed panoramas with blue circle icons on Maps. The company also created a website to highlight places in the world where one can find them.[9] In 2013, businesses such as shops, cafés and other premises could pay a photographer to take panoramic images of the interior of their premises, which were then included in Street View.[10] Google sets up a program to let third parties borrow the Street View Trekker (a backpack-mounted camera).[11] Business interior views are shown as small orange circles. In 2014, Street-level imagery from the past can now be optionally seen, if available, for a given street view.[12]

In 2015, a partnership was announced between Street View and the environmental monitoring company Aclima. Cars carry sensors to detect pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and particulates.[13] In October, support for Google Cardboard was announced, allowing users to utilize Street View in 360-degree virtual reality.[14]

In 2017, imagery inside the International Space Station was added to Street View. In August 2017, Google also allowed users to create their own Street View-like blue paths for the connected photospheres that are sufficiently close to one another.

On September 5, 2017, Google announced that they were improving the quality of the street view panoramic photo by revamping its mapping vehicles with all-new high-resolution camera systems and artificial intelligence. The new Google cars have been seen in various American cities since March 2017, as well as in Japan since August.[15] The first images taken with the new generation of cameras were available online on September 13.[16] In October 2017, the makers of the Insta360 Pro announced the certification of the first "Street View auto ready" camera for US$3,500; it uses six lenses for a 360° view and comes with Stitcher software.[17] In addition to purchase, the camera rig is also available to qualified entities as part of the Google loaner program, with 50 cameras available to loan.[18]

In 2018, Japan now offers the street view from a dog's perspective.[19] In August 2018, Street View covered two offshore gas-extraction platforms in the North Sea.[20]

On December 3, 2020, Google announced that users could contribute to Street View by capturing video using their augmented reality-supported phones using the Street View app.[21][22] Google shut down its dedicated Street View app on Android and iPhone and ended support on March 21, 2023. The Street View app allowed users to take and publish their own 360° photos. Google says that users can still upload 360° photos using StreetView Studio.[23]


Street View is available as a component of Google Maps and Google Earth, as a web application, and as a mobile application for Android and iOS. Originally, Google Maps used Adobe Flash for Street View.[24] Google overhauled Google Maps in 2013. The newer version uses JavaScript extensively and provides a JavaScript application programming interface.[25] At the time of their release, the new Google Maps and Street View were measured slower than the old version in various setups.[26][27] A user can switch to the old version of Google Maps.[28][29][needs update]

The drag-and-drop Pegman icon is the primary user interface element used by Google to connect Maps to Street View. Its name comes from its resemblance to a clothespeg. When not in use, Pegman sits atop or beside the Google Maps zoom controls. Occasionally, Pegman "dresses up" for special events or is joined by peg friends in Google Maps. When dragged into Street View near Area 51, he becomes a flying saucer, and when dragged near the Florida Keys or Hawaii, he becomes a mermaid. When viewing older views, the Pegman in the minimap changes to Doc Brown from Back to the Future.[30] At Loch Ness, Pegman turns into Nessie wearing a tartan hat, where Street View includes coverage of the lake itself as well as the nearby A82 road and rural areas.[31]


  Countries and dependencies with mostly full coverage
  Countries and dependencies with partial coverage
  Countries and dependencies with official coverage planned
  Countries and dependencies with unofficial coverage planned
  Countries and dependencies with views of selected businesses and/or tourist attractions only
  Countries and dependencies with views of third party images of streets and/or landmarks
  Countries and dependencies without current or planned coverage

Google announced in May 2017 that it had captured more than 10 million miles (16 million kilometres) of Street View imagery across 83 countries.[32][33] Maps also include panoramic views taken underwater such as in West Nusa Tenggara underwater coral, in the Grand Canyon, inside museums, and Liwa Desert in United Arab Emirates, which is viewed from camelback.[34] In a ten-day trek with Apa Sherpa, Google documented Khumbu, Nepal with its Mount Everest, Sherpa communities, monasteries and schools.[35]

Google also added landmarks in Egypt, including the Pyramids of Giza, Cairo Citadel, Saqqara, Monastery of Saint Mina, and the Citadel of Qaitbay in the 9 September 2014 release.

In June 2022, Google announced the company is relaunching their Street View service in India. The announcement came six years after the feature was banned in India over security concerns. The company has partnered with local technology businesses Tech Mahindra and Genesys to aid in the relaunch of the service. As of July 2022, the service is live in 10 cities in India.[36]

Official coverage made by Google (excluding third parties or unofficial)
Region Normal street coverage Landmark coverage
East Asia Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau China
South-East Asia Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam (removed)
South Asia India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, British Indian Ocean Territory
Central/Northern Asia Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan
Middle East Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Qatar Iraq, Lebanon
North Africa Tunisia Egypt
Central Africa São Tomé and Príncipe
West Africa Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana Mali
East Africa Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Réunion Madagascar, Tanzania
Southern Africa South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana
Western Europe United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Malta, Luxembourg, Andorra, San Marino, Monaco, Isle of Man, Jersey, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein (removed)
Northern Europe Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Faroe Islands, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Åland Islands
Eastern Europe Poland, Hungary, Czechia, Slovakia, Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine Belarus
North America United States, Canada, Mexico, Greenland, Bermuda St. Pierre and Miquelon
Central America/Caribbean Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Curaçao, Panama Costa Rica, Martinique
South America Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay Falkland Islands
Oceania Australia, New Zealand, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Pitcairn Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands Vanuatu, United States Minor Outlying Islands
Antarctica Antarctica, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Data capturing equipment

Street View camera
A Google Street View trike

Street View imagery has come from several generations of camera systems from Immersive Media Company,[37] Point Grey Research (now FLIR Systems),[38] and in-house.[39] The cameras contain no mechanical parts, including the shutter; instead, they used CMOS sensors and an electronic rolling shutter. Widely deployed versions are:

  • R2: the earliest after Immersive Media. The photos were captured with a ring of eight 11-megapixel CCD sensors with commercial photographic wide-angle lenses, cameras with the same specifications as those used for the Google Books project.
  • Ladybug2 cameras (resolution 1024 × 768 pixels) by Point Grey Research.[40]
  • R5: uses a ring of eight 5-megapixel CMOS cameras by Elphel[41][42] with custom low-flare lenses, plus a camera with a fisheye lens on top to capture upper levels of buildings.
  • R7: the first completely in-house-built camera; it uses 15 of the same sensors and lenses as R5, without the fisheye effect.

Data-recording equipment is usually mounted on the roof of a car. A trike (tricycle) was developed to record pedestrian routes, including Stonehenge and other UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In 2010, a snowmobile-based system captured the 2010 Winter Olympics sites.[39] Shopping trolleys have also been used to shoot the insides of museums, and in Venice, the narrow roads were photographed with backpack-mounted cameras, and canals were photographed from boats.[43] A portable backpack-mounted Google Trekker is used in outdoor terrain. For instance, the six main paths up Snowdon, United Kingdom, were mapped by the Google Trekker in 2015.[44]

In 2017, Google used eight 20-megapixel cameras. Two cameras were facing left and right to read street signs and business names.[45] Laser range scanners from Sick AG for measuring up to 50 meters at 180° in the front of the vehicle[46] are used for recording the actual dimensions of the space being photographed. LIDAR scanners from Velodyne were added in the 2017 update. It is mounted at 45° to capture three-dimensional depth information and positional information.[45] Accurate positioning was done via a Global Positioning System, a wheel speed sensor, and inertial navigation sensor data.[39]

In September 2018, Google announced it would integrate air quality sensors from Aclima into its global fleet of Street View vehicles.[47]

A Street View Trekker backpack-mounted camera
Google Maps Street View Trekker backpack being implemented on the sidewalk of the Hudson River Greenway in New York City

Privacy concerns

A Google Street View car was showcased on the Google campus in Mountain View, California, in October 2010.

Google Street View will blur content for any user who makes a request, in addition to the automatic blurring of faces and licence plates.[48] Privacy advocates have objected to Google Street View, pointing to views found to show men leaving strip clubs, protesters at an abortion clinic, sunbathers in bikinis, and people engaging in activities visible from public property that they do not wish to be seen publicly.[49] Another concern is the height of the cameras, and in at least two countries, Japan[50] and Switzerland,[51] Google has had to lower the height of its cameras so as to not peer over fences and hedges. The service also allows users to flag inappropriate or sensitive imagery for Google to review and remove.[52] On the other side of the blurring issue are those who wish their home or property to be unblurred. As of 2023, there is no process to have an image or object in Street View unblurred.[53]

Police Scotland received an apology for wasting police time in 2014 from a local business owner in Edinburgh who, in 2012, staged a fake murder for the Google camera car by lying in the road "while his colleague stood over him with a pickaxe handle".[54] In May 2010, it was revealed that Google had collected and stored payload data from unencrypted Wi-Fi connections as part of Street View.[55][56]

The concerns have led to Google not providing or suspending the service in countries around the world.

  • Austria: Google Street View was banned in Austria, because Google was found to collect Wi-Fi data without authorization in 2010. After the ban was lifted, rules were set up for how Street View can operate legally in Austria. Google resumed collecting imagery in 2017.[57] As of 2018 Google Street View is available in select areas of Austria.
  • Australia: In 2010, Google Street View ceased operations in Australia, following months of investigations from Australian authorities.[58] However, this cessation has since ended, with Google announcing plans to continue production on May 4, 2011[59] and subsequently releasing updated Street View imagery for Australian towns and cities on July 27, 2011.[60]
  • Germany: In 2011, having put online pictures of the 20 largest cities, Google stopped taking Street View images in Germany.[61] However, as of mid-2020, Google's website shows numerous areas of Germany as being scheduled for coverage by Street View vehicles over the ensuing months.[62] As of 2024, Germany has partial street coverage.
  • India: In 2011, Google stopped taking street images in India, after receiving a letter from police authorities in Bangalore.[63] However, in 2022, Google announced Street View in eight Indian cities, including Bangalore.[64]
  • Canada: Street View cars were spotted as early as September 2007 in Montreal. However, service for Canada was delayed while they attempted to settle with the Canadian government over its privacy laws. Privacy and town beauty concerns were dealt with and Street View is available in Montreal and other Canadian cities (as of 2016).[65]

Third-party use of images

Imagery obtained from Google Street View has been used for research purposes, e.g., quantifying greenery, health studies, and assessing cycling conditions.[66][67]

Fine-art photographers have selected images for use in their own work.[68] The images have been published in book form and exhibited in art galleries, such as the work of Jon Rafman at the Saatchi Gallery, London.[69] Rafman sees images that evoke the "gritty urban life" depicted in American street photography and the images commissioned by the Farm Security Administration. He was inspired by the aesthetic of Henri Cartier-Bresson.[70]

Michael Wolf won an honourable mention in Daily Life in the 2011 World Press Photo competition for some of his work using Google Street View.[71] Mishka Henner was shortlisted for the 2013 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in November 2012 for his series 'No Man's Land', which depicts sex workers at rural roadside locations.[72] Canadian artist Sylvia Grace Borda worked in conjunction with John M. Lynch between 2013 and 2014[73][74] to insert the first staged tableaux[75] into the Google Street View engine. It won them the Lumen Prize in 2016.[76] Borda has independently continued to author the Google Street View engine, and in 2017, she created the tableaux series the Kissing Project.[77]

Swedish programmer Anton Wallén developed a game called GeoGuessr, which places players in a Google Street View and has them guess its location.[78] In 2022, competitive players went viral, prompting a New York Times feature on top players.[79]

See also


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