Google has long taken a number of earth photos for Street View and Google Earth projects. But for the first time, Google revealed the world wide of its photographs, according to a CNET report:
10 million miles of street view images;
36 million square miles of Google Earth images;
Images of areas inhabited by 98 per cent of the world’s population for people to view.
The numbers, first released by Google, give the outside world a better idea of the extent of Google Maps and give Google a better lead over rivals such as Apple, which has just added similar street-view photography to apple maps for iOS 13 this year.
But Apple has a long way to go before it can catch up with Google.
Google Maps currently has more than 1 billion users a month and is one of the company’s most popular products. It’s also an effective way for search giants to run local ads. Even though Street View or Google Earth’s satellite images aren’t the features that users use every day, they are still a huge part of the Google Maps service.
Google Maps Coverage
Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, resigned as CEO of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, earlier this month and conceived Street View in 2004. His goal is to create a 360-degree map of the world that transcends streets and highways, including alleys, landmarks and mountains.
The original street view covered only 5 cities. To get the images, Google used cars, drones, hikers or backpacks called “hikers” strapped to camels and sheep, taking some interesting images from around the world.
For example, this is a photograph of a skier on a very green slopes of Mont Blanc, on the border with France and Italy.
Ethan Russell, Google’s director of maps products, said:
“Images are at the heart of everything we do. “
“We think it’s the basis of the entire map-making process. “
Of course, for those who think Google has a lot of data about our surroundings and online activity, it won’t be comfortable to know how much Google is shooting in the real world.
Like its Silicon Valley counterparts, Google is under pressure over its data collection practices. The vast majority of the company’s nearly $140 billion in annual revenue comes from targeted ads that are supported by user data. That includes ads on Google Maps, although the company does not list (and has refused to disclose) these revenue figures.
Google’s maps feature has also been a cause for criticism for a long time.
In 2018, the Associated Press reported that Google tracked users’ location information even though people had turned off location sharing on their phones, but Google learned its lesson. Google is also reportedly under scrutiny for handing over user location data to law enforcement and other federal investigators looking for clues.
Ethan Russell stressed that Google’s map images come from public places where people stand on the street or above their heads. He says Google gets all satellite photos from third-party providers.
Google Area Shooting
But there are facts that cannot be ignored, such as Google’s ambitious satellite plans.
In 2014, Google acquired Sky Box, a high-resolution satellite image company, which Google says will help keep the mapping app up-to-date. Sky Box also touts the ability to provide analysis and intelligence through aerial photography. For example, you can predict economic trends by checking the container height in an oil facility from above. But three years later Google sold the company and pulled out of the satellite business.
Over the past few years, Google has tried to build information centers for Google Maps, not just navigation tools. Over the past few months, Google has added translation features, meal delivery options, and flight information and hotel reservations.
In promoting its vast library of map images, Google pointed out a feature called Live View. The tool uses AR (Augmented Reality) technology to overlay digital graphics on real-world images to beautify walking directions on the application.
Live View features
Live View is designed to address the “blue dot problem”, the familiar feeling that comes out of a subway station, looks down at the blue dot on the map app and rotates into a circle to find directions. Live View uses your phone’s camera to display arrows that tell you where to go.
To make this work, Google has developed a new technology because the GPS in the phone is not accurate enough. To give people real-time guidance, the app matches “tens of billions” of Street View images with data on your phone to show where you’re walking.
Google’s satellite imagery also has some good applications.
Three years ago, CNET sent a team to Angola to study the role of technology in clearing the mines left by the country’s decades-long civil war. A mine-clearing nonprofit, Callok, from the UK, relies on Google Earth to obtain aerial images of minefields to “clear mines.”