By Abhik Sengupta: The Google Maps Street View feature appears to be available in most Indian cities, letting users experience a “virtual representation” of their surroundings. Google announced Street View for Maps in India last year, though it was initially launched in Bengaluru on a pilot basis. Now, users can add a location, select Street View on Maps, and enjoy a 360-degree view of roads and houses as if they are physically present there. This 360 imagery helps you know where to go and what to expect when travelling. The feature on Maps returned to India last year after being banned for six years over security reasons.
India Today Tech was able to test and verify the functionality of Street View on Google Maps for various locations in and around Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. While most places provided a 360-viewing option, there were certain areas, such as Rohtak in Haryana, that were only accessible through static images. Additionally, Google Maps web version lets users know when the photo of a particular area was taken through a tiny caption placed at the bottom right.
How to use Street View on Google Maps
Street View on Google Maps works on both Android smartphones and iPhones through the app, as well as the Google Maps website. The company states users “can explore world landmarks and natural wonders, and experience places like museums, arenas, restaurants, and small businesses with Street View.”
Street View is highlighted by the blue line on Google Maps.
On PC, open Google Maps on your browser (preferably Chrome) > Turn on Street View from the “Layers” box at the bottom left> Select an area manually or enter the location in the search box.
Similarly, on Android phones or iPhones, enable Street View from the “Layers” box at the right > Select an area manually or enter the location in the search box.
The interface on the web and app remains more or less the same. You can also move forward on the map and explore an area by clicking on the arrows.
Why Google Maps Street View got banned in India
Street View on Google Maps was banned in India in 2016 due to security concerns. That’s primarily because Street View lets users explore areas via stitched panoramic photos. Photos could potentially reveal the identity of a person, which is a breach of privacy. Despite the company’s efforts to bring the feature back, the proposal was rejected by the government in 2018.
However, the option on Google Maps returned after the company announced a partnership with local players. Last year, Google stated Street View was achieved in collaboration with Genesys International and Tech Mahindra. Additionally, Street View now blurs the faces of people who are captured in the panoramic photo. The company argues that it only highlights public places, and no one’s privacy gets compromised.
As mentioned earlier, Google initially reintroduced Street View exclusively for Bengaluru. However, it seems that since the announcement, Street View support has been extended to additional cities. While Google stated that it was a pan India launch last year, we have observed that numerous pictures of remote locations carry the timestamp of 2023, suggesting that the area got covered under Street View this year.
India Today Tech has reached out to Google for more details on Street View’s wide availability in India.