Google Maps gets down to street level

Google has introduced a slick new feature for Google Maps that drops users right down to street level to view the scenery.

You access the new feature, Dubbed Street View, by clicking a button on the Google Maps main screen. The program will then show you which cities have Street View photographs. As of last week's release ' demonstrated at the Where 2.0 conference in San Jose, Calif. ' five metropolitan areas are so equipped: Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, New York and San Francisco.

When you go into Street View, a human figure that you can move around on the map appears. You position the figure and click, and you find yourself in the middle of a navigable, high-resolution image.

Street View lets you turn 360 degrees and zoom in to check out just how much shade is available at that outdoor cafe in the middle of the block.

Translucent arrows help users orient themselves and navigate. And the resolution of the images is impressive, though they can take a while to reveal their full glory if you have a slow Internet connection. Google promises that it will rapidly expand Street View to include other metropolitan areas.

Google also announced the preview launch of Mapplets, a tool that lets third-party developers create mini applications on Google Maps.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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