Just browsing: Google Street View takes users shopping

Google’s free online map service is letting shops, gyms, restaurants and other small businesses provide viewers with glimpses of what lies behind façades seen on Street View.

A test programme launched in April last year was bearing fruit in a growing array of panoramic images taken inside businesses that volunteered to be part of the project.

“We’ve been seeing renewed interest in the past few days because, as promised, we’re getting more imagery online,” Google spokesperson Deanna Yick said on Monday.

“The 360-degree views are really visually engaging, so we’re glad users are excited,” she continued.

Small businesses in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States have been able to invite Street View photographers into their shops or eateries to capture images and serve them up with Google online maps.

“With this immersive imagery, potential customers can easily imagine themselves at the business and decide if they want to visit in person,” Google Maps product manager Gadi Royz said in a blog post early this year.

Google is blurring faces of bystanders in pictures to allay privacy concerns that have arisen with Street View, which lets people click spots on online maps to see recently-taken images of locations.—AFP

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