Street View is one of the most useful features that Google uses to help users navigate via Search and Maps, and now its availability may be about to rise dramatically. In a new test, Google is allowing users to help capture Street View data without needing to use a special 360° camera.
The feature, which is called Driving Mode, is showing up in the side menu for some users of Google’s Street View app. Once enabled, it looks like it should allow users to capture Street View imagery without a special camera. It may even be able to blur out faces and license plates automatically.
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. Right now, it seems like the data gathered might be undergoing manual reviews, as the user who captured the video above is able to see his contributions on his profile, but not live on Google Maps yet.
It’s unclear if the company is planning on rolling this out more widely. Street View collection has had its fair share of legal trouble, so perhaps Google is playing it safe and slow for now. I’m not seeing the new Driving Mode at all yet, but you might be able to due to the way Google conducts server side rollouts. If you want to try out your luck, go ahead and download the latest version of the Street View app from APK Mirror or the Play Store.