This story was originally published and last updated .
Street View is one of the most useful features that Google created to help people navigate via Search and Maps, and now its availability is about to rise dramatically. Google has announced that it's allowing you to help capture Street View data without a special 360° camera. The beta is limited to a few locations in the beginning, but if everything goes well, many more places might soon be explorable through user imagery.
The feature, which is called Driving Mode, is rolling out to the side menu for some users of Google's Street View app. Once enabled, it allows you to capture Street View imagery without a special camera. It even blurs out faces and license plates for you, and photos are automatically rotated and positioned as a series of connected images. These are placed on Google Maps, allowing other people to explore the Street View imagery right where it was taken. In contrast to the regular 360° footage you'll find there, you'll presumably only see normal photos.
- Easily record Street View as you walk, bike, or drive with the new "Video Mode"
- Quickly preview your Video Mode collections as immersive 360 videos before you publish to Street View
- View your Video Mode collections as a track on a map along with your total distance traveled
- Several bug fixes and other improvements
The feature is currently in beta and is available for ARCore-compatible Android devices in select places: Toronto, Canada, New York, NY, and Austin, TX, along with Nigeria, Indonesia, and Costa Rica. Google says more regions are on the way soon.
This has the potential to improve the availability of Street View, especially in more rural areas that Google doesn't have data on right now. It's unclear how the company plans to control the quality of the data gathered from users' phones, but if any company can weed out weather conditions and smudged windshields, it's probably Google.
The new Driving Mode was first spotted back in November on Reddit, but it was only available for a few people. It should now be rolling out to everyone, or at least to those living or visiting the currently supported regions. If you want to contribute, go ahead and download the latest version of the Street View app from APK Mirror or the Play Store.
The article has been updated to reflect that the feature is now official.