Your phones are now Street View cars. Yep. The ones that you see Google sometimes rolling around in with those big cameras on the top.
Today Google announced that it was going to begin pushing out an update to the Street View app, which will allow any Android user to contribute to Street View using their phones. Users can now take their own images and share them with the app.
While it's partially a way for users to have fun and a new way to interact with Street View, it's more than that. Google is adding this feature for other reasons.
Users contributing to Street View using their phones helps Google out
Google isn't just doing this so users have a fun new feature to play with. It actually helps Google out in a way you may not have thought of.
Google Street View cars generally gather all the images you see when you use the feature. But Google doesn't make it down every single road on earth. So this is a way for Google to provide more Street View imagery by essentially crowd sourcing the images that are submitted by users.
While today marks the beginning of the official rollout, Google has already been testing this feature. At least as far back as November 11, some users have had access to the ability in Street View called Driving Mode. Which let you take and upload your own images for Street View.
Now Google is simply making it available to all Android users. Though you do need to have a specific Android version or newer to use it because it is powered by Google's ARCore technology. Basically your device has to be ARCore compatible otherwise the feature isn't available to you.
The feature will roll out in just a few regions initially
Google is calling this Connected Photos beta feature, and it won't be available in all regions right away.
It'll start with Austin and New York in the US, Toronto in Canada, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Costa Rica. From there Google will expand it to more regions. But Google doesn't say when or where those regions would be.
Presumably it'll expand things out to more states across the US after this initial wave of rollouts. But where it goes next is anyone's guess. If this is a feature you're interested in, you'll want to keep an eye on the Street View app and install it on your Android device if it's not already there.