How to Visit the Past Using Google Street View on Mobile

Google’s been capturing images for Street View since 2007. It’s a feature included with Google Maps you can use to browse parts of the world in 360 degrees. For some time now, you could use time travel on desktop computers to view captures from previous years.

As part of a 15th-anniversary celebration in May 2022, Google introduced time travel to the Maps app on iOS and Android. You can now browse areas in Street View, going all the way back to the first captures in 2007, right on your phone. Here’s how to do it.

How to Use Google Street View to Visit the Past

You use Google Street View on a desktop by dragging a small yellow character and dropping it onto any highlighted roads. This opens a 360-degree set of images for an immersive experience. It works similarly on mobile, but there are even more unique Maps features you can try in the app.

Using the time travel feature in Google Maps on your phone is relatively straightforward:

  1. Open the Google Maps app and search or browse for locations in the app.
  2. Tap and hold on the screen next to your location of interest.
  3. Tap the square at the bottom left of the screen to open Street View.
  4. Select See more dates at the bottom of the screen.

And that’s it, you’re all set to browse the captured images from each year. Just tap the tiles displaying their month and year of capture. We noticed that some locations are missing years, but most have their first captures from 2007.

Why Time Travel in Street View Is Great

The time travel feature is mostly just a fun tool to play with. Exploring the past in the more than 80 countries where Street View is available can provide great entertainment. You can also use it to find some buildings or landmarks that no longer exist.

Ever forget what shop was around the corner from your home years ago? It might’ve been a small family business, with seemingly no traces of it online. Well, if it was there in 2007, you can jump back in time and refresh your memory!

Beyond that, it’s a fantastic way to see how certain landmarks were built or taken down over time.

Find Interesting Spots With Google Maps’ Time Travel Feature

An easy way to find interesting landmarks to explore with Google Maps’ time travel feature is by searching for “landmarks.” One interesting example involves the Museum of Arts & Sciences in Florida.

The images of the Museum from 2007 show an abandoned building in a run-down lot. The following photos, from June 2011, show a completely renovated and well-kept building! And when you compare these to the most recent captures in June 2022, you can see how much Google’s camera’s capture quality has improved.

Playing with Google’s time travel feature in Street View is a lot of fun. It can really breathe life back into certain areas of the world, especially those with major changes in the last 15 years.

Using time travel is just one of the many amazing features you can find in Google Maps. There are plenty of other features you should consider trying out to improve your navigation and exploration experience with the app.

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