Street View is now available in most areas via the Google Maps Web app. The return of the popular feature, which was sacrificed for iOS users as Apple made the transition from Google’s mapping service to its own, will allay the fears of some iOS users who have struggled to find a suitable replacement since upgrading to iOS 6.
Street View, launched by Google in 2007, gives users a photo-based panoramic view at street level in many urban areas around the world. The feature was added to the iPhone in late 2008 and has since found its way into Android, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile implementations of Google’s mapping app.
Although presenting snapshots in time that are subject to change, the feature allows users unfamiliar with an area to search for and note recognizable buildings and landmarks prior to traveling to the area. It also allows individuals to experience the look and feel of foreign cultures and cities “from the ground” without ever having to travel.
To use Google Street View on the Google Maps Web app, search for a street address or point of interest. If a Street View perspective is available at the desired location, a small icon of a person will appear in the lower right of the screen. Tap it to launch Street View.
The feature is not as smoothly implemented in the Web version of Google Maps as it was in the native iOS application; launching a Street View takes the user to a new Safari page, forcing the user to close the tab when they are done and switch back to the primary Google Maps tab. In our testing, this transition was not always seamless, with one crash and two forced reloads.
Most areas around the world now have Street View enabled via the Web app, but Google appears to be rolling the service out gradually. If your favorite Street View-enabled city is not yet available on the Google Maps Web app, check back later today.