The Photospheres feature has been a photographic novelty thus far, but today Google Maps has added some notable functionality. The Views section of Google Maps already lets you place your own 360-degree panorama on specific points in the world, but now you can connect them via virtual paths, creating an instant, locale-specific Street View. Other users can then view it and move between multiple Photospheres for a more complete experience.

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This is a great way for users to add Street View capabilities to locations where Google's shutterbug vehicles can't normally go, like hiking trails or inside buildings. (Not that this has stopped Google before.) Once multiple Photospheres are connected via virtual paths, or "constellations," users can "walk" between them in the same way that they already use Street View. The process is a little complicated - here's a breakdown of the management on a Google support page.

Though you can use an Android device or a standard camera to create a Photosphere, it looks like you can only see these user-submitted Street View additions on the web at the moment. Bummer. On the plus side, these new user-created Street Views can be embedded on the web just like any map.

We'd give you a Street View of the Android Police central offices, but at present those stretch across about 3,000 miles. It would take a bit of doing.

Source: Google Maps blog