Ever wonder which burger place you went to last time you were in town? Now you can use Street View to check out business search results in Google Maps to jog your memory.
Whenever you use Google Maps to search for business results, a Street View link will guide you to a view of the storefront provided it’s in Google’s Index. Google’s Street View cameras have been drive-by indexing city after city, but until now the footage wasn’t terribly useful.
In large part, Street View has been used to spot the oddities that a camera might pick up along its course. That’s because Street View rarely catches the course of a set of driving directions and wasn’t tied to any information about the area.
Now Google has gone through the excruciating process of indexing thousands of miles worth or GPS data from its Street View cars against local business results in its index. Then engineers added markers in Street View so that you can actually see which business is in a building.
This provides an interesting glimpse of the store or restaurant that you’re checking out before ever stepping foot out of your door. It’s also a great way to make Street View imagery useful in areas where there is limited coverage.
It will be interesting to see whether Google jumps into providing augmented reality applications on mobile phones using Street View. Yelp was the first company to provide an augmented reality application on the iPhone showing local business listings yesterday.
The augmented reality view means that a user would be able to hold a mobile phone and see Street View information and business results based on where they are and which direction they’re looking. It’s a brand new functionality that is only available on the iPhone 3G S and Android phones.
Yelp may have beaten Google to the punch in releasing the first augmented reality app for the iPhone, but Google certainly got a head start on indexing the world with Street View cameras. We’ll just have to wait to see which one comes out ahead in this valuable niche.