google street view car

We’re not sure exactly what Google’s hopes were for Street View when the feature got introduced to Google Maps and Google Earth back in May 2007, but it’s safe to say now that the feature has turned into a global phenomenon.

Launched for a handful of US cities five years ago, Street View has since got no less than 63 updates, expanding to 39 countries and 3,000 cities around the world. The latest update has hit the world’s most popular web mapping service just hours ago and is said to be “the biggest ever”, which says quite a lot if you take a look at changelogs from previous releases.

Over 250,000 miles of roads have been refreshed with today’s Street View update, with coverage increased in countries like the US, Macau, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, Taiwan, Italy, Great Britain, Denmark, Norway and Canada.

However, Street View has stopped being about just highways, roads and crossroads, so this newest update’s piece of resistance is the launching of new “special collections” in countries like South Africa, Japan, Spain, France, Brazil and Mexico.

In fact, Google says that it has doubled the number of such collections, allowing Maps users to explore parks, city centers, castles and tourist attractions like Russia’s Catherine Palace and Ferapontov Monastery, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taiwan, or Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

You can check out all the special collections in Google Street View here, but do handle with care, because those stunning images can create addiction. Also, we understand that it’s much cheaper and easier to get your daily dose of cultural knowledge from the comfort of your couch, but do take into consideration getting out once in a while and visiting those places for real.

Last, but not least, I can’t help but send out a message to our friends from Apple, who’ve failed so miserably with their new iOS Maps – you’ve just been punked… again!