Google has added time travel to the already great list of fascinating features packed into its Google Maps app. There are already various ways to see places at different times, with some locations covering more periods than others. Now Street View scenes on an iPhone and Android phone are getting a fun and enlightening way to see how buildings and landscapes have changed over the years, even when viewed with the app.
A little-known fact is that Google didn’t develop the software that later became Google Maps. It was initially called Expedition and was made by Where 2 Technologies in 2003. Google acquired the company and continued to work and expand its capabilities. As a result, the first Android and iOS apps appeared in 2008 with very accurate and helpful turn-by-turn directions that quickly made Google Maps a must-have app for any smartphone.
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Google Maps app can show 360-degree, street-level imagery of nearly any location. A relatively new feature is seeing how that same place looked on different dates. When navigating in a Street View display, the user can tap anywhere on the photo to see more information in a card that pops up at the bottom of the screen, including the street address. Tapping the button labeled ‘See more dates’ will bring up thumbnail images with more dates listed by month and year. Tapping any thumbnail will reveal the Street View recording from that time. Scrolling sideways on the thumbnails will show the complete list. Now an iPhone or Android phone can travel through time with Google Maps.
Google Maps Time In A Browser
The same feature has been available in a desktop or laptop computer browser since 2014. The way it works is a bit different, of course. From the Google Maps website, the user can navigate to a location of interest, then clicking layers in the bottom-left will reveal a few different viewing options. Clicking ‘More’ expands the choices, and users can select Street View. A click on any street or place that is shown on the map will display a 360-degree view of that spot.
In the upper-left, the month and year of the current imagery will be shown, and clicking there opens a small window with a slider that can be moved left or right to change the time period. Of course, some locations cover more dates than others, and it depends on when Google Street View vehicles traveled along that street. To see a larger view, click the magnifying glass icon in the small window, and it’s possible to travel along the street at the selected time. This is an incredibly fascinating way to explore the world, and Google gave a huge gift to historians and curious armchair travelers with this capability.