In Google’s continued attempt to crowd source information, today they introduced Views. A very new “community” program, Google Views allows you to upload your photospheres and panorama shots to the site, which can be considered an adjunct function of Maps. While the photos won’t necessarily make their way into Maps straight away, it seems to be a stopgap for Google to add them later.
Views is a really great project, and there really is no better way to get a real feel for where you’re going or want to be that through the eyes of people who’ve been there.
This, along with Google’s offer to loan out street view cameras, is a great way for them to map the world. Photospheres can be taken with the latest versions of Android (4.2 and newer), but panoramas with both mobile devices and DSLR cameras can be submitted as well. Each user is also granted a Views profile, though it doesn’t seem as though you can readily search for someone’s profile. Users can always share their profile with others, though.
On the Views page, there is an “Explore” dropdown menu which has many cities to see, as well as points of interest. There is also a section to educate us on the technology behind street views, which is a nice reference guide. Of course, you can always enter the city or town you wish to check out in the search field and see it from the eyes of citizens and visitors.
When I added a photosphere, the process was really simple. Through my profile, I was allowed to see my photos that were automatically backed up. Of those, only the photospheres and panorama shots were in color, the rest were greyed out (I guess Google isn’t interested in normal photos, just panorama and photospheres). When I added it, I simply tagged a location and submitted. I was told the photosphere would be publicly posted as mine, and a pop-up then told me that if my photosphere was approved, it would make it to Google Maps. So, there you go – the stopgap!
Views is a really great project, and there really is no better way to get a real feel for where you’re going or want to be that through the eyes of people who’ve been there. This also explains a bit why the photosphere stitching improved for Android 4.3.