While Google Maps has definitely helped us navigate the world, some still require more visual cues when trying to figure out where they are or where they’re headed. Sometimes, you need those cues even before you get there, which is why Google Street View continues to be a critical navigation tool. Street Views, unfortunately, aren’t that easy because of the hardware needed and privacy concerns. Google has apparently figured out a way to address those in an upcoming Driving Mode that simply uses your phone’s camera to contribute.
Unlike Google Maps, Google Street View, which exists as a standalone app and as part of Google Maps, puts you right in the middle of a location. It’s useful for getting a feel of the place before you visit or even visit places you will probably never reach. It’s an extremely useful navigation, exploration, and educational tool but it also takes more work to create.
The biggest requirement is a 360-degree camera or a contraption that can shoot in all directions simultaneously. In its infancy, Google had to resort to cars that had such rigs on top and even became notorious for it. Soon, anyone might be able to contribute and won’t even need anything more than their smartphone.
Reddit user _-J-G-_ showed a new “Driving Mode” option in the standalone Google Street View app. According to his post, it simply uses your phone’s camera as you make your journey. That means it won’t be a 360-degree image but XDA theorizes Google will apply some image manipulation to stitch flat photos together, presuming there would be enough images of a location to create a 360-degree view.
The app also automatically blurs faces and vehicle plates, according to the post, something that is probably child’s play for Google’s computer vision and AI chops. If it does manage to pull this trick off, it could help expand Street View significantly to reach areas and places that Google alone wouldn’t be able to reach.