As you may have heard, Google this week rolled out another beta feature that will soon, depending on how things play out, either prove an innocuous time-waster or some sort of privacy-ending, terror-enabling, total-surveillance nightmare. It’s Street View, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a ground-level Google Earth that plants you smack in the middle of a street rather than floating above it. New York is one of the few cities to get the early treatment, with most of the Manhattan grid and good chunks of the outer boroughs already covered. Once plopped down at an intersection of your choosing, you can take in a 360-degree view or “walk” up and down the block; storefronts distend woozily around you, and parked vehicles dissolve into nothing where the photos are stitched together. As trippy as the experience is, we’re a little intrigued about Street View’s next step. What happens when the company photogs have traversed all the places with, you know, streets? Volunteers roaming every hill and dale taking pictures? Flying unmanned Googledrones scouring the countryside? Of course.
Street View demo [Google]