Google crowdsources Street View imagery

The company's driver's-eye view of the world is now augmented by geotagged photos stored on Google's Panoramio service.

Google's Street View now is augmented by photos supplied by contributors to the company's Panoramio service. This shot of the St. Louis courthouse is more scenic than the official Street View version. Note also the advertisement below the photo. (Click to enlarge.)
Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google Maps' Street View feature uses imagery collected by cameras mounted to Google cars, but now the company is blending in photos taken by the public as well.

Panoramio, which Google acquired in 2007, lets people share photos that have been geotagged with location data so they can be shown on a map. Those Panoramio photos already were available in Google Earth and Google Maps, but now they can show on the more personal Street View as well, Google programmer Frederik Schaffalitzky said in a blog post Wednesday.

Potential advantages of checking the photos on Street View include views at a higher resolution view or during a different time of day, which could be handy for the occasions when Google's Street View camera was shooting into the sun and didn't produce much of an image.

And of course a disadvantage is that the Street View intrusiveness to which some people object is amplified.

When a view can be shown with Panoramio images, a "user photos" icon shows in the upper-right corner of Street View. Clicking it shows an array of local photo thumbnails, and clicking one of those thumbnails loads that image. Above it is a link to the Panoramio page of the person who added the photo.

Not every Panoramio image is included. Once you've contributed geotagged photos to Panoramio, "Google's image-matching algorithms will analyze them at some point to see if they are also a good match for a Street View location," Schaffalitzky said.