Google Street View is gaining the ability to allow users to see multiple images taken since 2007 of the same places so that online viewers can compare and see changes in the images over time.
"If you've ever dreamt of being a time traveler like Doc Brown, now's your chance," wrote Vinay Shet, Google Street View product manager, in an April 23 post on the Google Lat Long Blog. "Starting today, you can travel to the past to see how a place has changed over the years by exploring Street View imagery in Google Maps for desktop. We've gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world."
Not all users can view the new photo histories immediately, because Google is rolling the new feature out over the next 24 hours. After the gradual roll-out is completed on April 24, the image comparisons will be available to all users, according to Google.
Users will be able to explore the new feature whenever they see a clock icon on the left side of a Street View image, according to Google. If the clock icon is present, users can click on it and then move the slider through time to see the images and compare them. Users can click on a thumbnail image to see the same place in previous years or seasons.
"Now with Street View, you can see a landmark's growth from the ground up, like the Freedom Tower in New York City or the 2014 World Cup Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil," wrote Shet. "This new feature can also serve as a digital timeline of recent history, like the reconstruction after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Japan. You can even experience different seasons and see what it would be like to cruise Italian roadways in both summer and winter."
One thing the new feature won't do is let viewers go back farther back than 2007, when the collection of the Street View images first began, according to Google. "Immersive, 360-degree views can take you through time, whether you want to see a landmark's construction, a community's reconstruction after a natural disaster, the seasons changing or a neighborhood's evolution."
Google's Street View program is always growing with new images and destinations that bring amazing places to online viewers.
In March 2014, Google Street View released spectacular images of the Colorado River and its travails through the Grand Canyon and other natural land on its 1,450-mile course from Colorado to Mexico, as well as images of Hawaii, which were taken by volunteers from the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.
In February 2014, Street View released images portraying the wonders and majesty of the Taj Mahal and 29 other important architectural treasures in India.
Earlier in February, Street View expanded its coverage of Russia, just in time for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, adding new images for Vladivostok, Yakutsk, Irkutsk and Sochi. Google Street View cars traveled more than 186,000 miles in Russia during 2013 to capture the newly added images.
In December 2013, Street View added images of Venice, Italy, to its collections, featuring scenes of the city of canals, water and historic architecture.
In October 2013, Street View cameras began capturing the emotional power of thousands of military graves at Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery, as well as the first-ever Street View images from the African nation of Swaziland.
The huge physics laboratories and research areas at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, Switzerland, were captured by Street View cameras and released in September 2013, providing spectacular photographic images of the massive facility. Included in the online photo tour are images of the 16.7-mile-long Large Hadron Collider, which is the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator used for scientific research, according to CERN. The collider began operating in 2008.
In August 2013, Street View released images of some of the world's most spectacular zoos and wildlife parks so that online viewers can see a wide assortment of wild animals from around the world right on their own computers and mobile devices. Using Street View, online visitors can now see panda bears eating bamboo plants and tumbling around the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, where more than 30 percent of this endangered species lives in a conservation and breeding facility. The new Street View images also include other animal parks around the world, such as the San Diego Zoo, as well as zoos in Houston, Atlanta and Chicago in North America.