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Google Maps has launched a cool and fascinating new ‘time travel’ feature

To celebrate the 15th birthday of Street View, the company is letting users travel 15 years back in time

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham

To celebrate the 15th birthday of its Street View feature, Google has announced something pretty special. That’s right, the company is giving us the ability to travel back in time. Pretty sweet, huh?

Before you get ahead of yourselves, no it isn’t quite as revelatory as you think. The tool doesn’t let you travel back that far: it only goes back to the birth of Street View in 2007. So don’t expect to see the birth of civilisation or anything like that. You’re more likely to see something a bit more minor, like a local supermarket being built or an old car park being demolished. The above example shows the construction of Hudson Yards in New York

So how do you see all this stuff? Well, go onto Google Maps and plonk the little yellow person down on a road (thereby activating Street View). You should see a little clock icon in the top left (or, if you’re on mobile, at the bottom of the screen), which then opens up a new pop-up where you can move the slider through time and show how a place has changed over the past 15 years. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll have hours of fun exploring ahead of you.

These new tools are currently only available on desktop, and are currently in the process of being rolled out on iOS and Android smartphones, too.

Over the past decade and a half Street View has amassed 220 billion images in more than 100 countries. Since 2007 the tool – and the places it maps – have changed a lot, so it’s nice to see so much of the company’s archives being opened up to the public.

If you fancy having a snoop around any of Google Maps’s new features for yourself, you can do so here.

Did you see that Google Maps is launching a spectacular new ‘immersive view’ too?

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