Staggering reach of Google Maps and Google Street View revealed

It’s hard to think what life was like before Google Maps, but the sheer scale of Google’s cartological achievements have now been laid out.

The Silicon Valley giant has mapped out the parts of the world where 98% of people live. Or, to flip that, there’s only 2% of humankind living on Earth that Google hasn’t snapped a picture of.

Furthermore, the first-person Google Street View feature has now clocked up over 10 million miles of street-based photography. Google’s camera-toting cars have been criss-crossing the globe for years now – in some cases leading to some interesting discoveries.

In fact, the search company says that 10 million miles of Street View equates to circling Earth more than 400 times.

All of Google’s satellite pictures for Google Earth is supplied by third parties and the company now has a total of 36 million square miles of imagery available for people to browse.

This is the first time Google has spoken about the staggering reach of its mapping services. In total, Maps has more than 1 billion monthly active users and is one of Google’s most popular products.

‘Gathering imagery is no small task. It can take anywhere from days to weeks, and requires a fleet of Street View cars, each equipped with nine cameras that capture high-definition imagery from every vantage point possible,’ explained Thomas Escobar, senior product manager for Google Maps.

‘These cameras are athermal, meaning that they’re designed to handle extreme temperatures without changing focus so they can function in a range of environments – from Death Valley during the peak of the summer to the snowy mountains of Nepal in the winter.’

‘Each Street View car includes its own photo processing center and lidar sensors that use laser beams to accurately measure distance.’

A couple of months ago, Google introduced Incognito Mode to Maps for the first time which allows users to avoid having locations saved to their timeline.

When you turn on Incognito mode in Maps, your Maps activity on that device, like the places you search for, won’t be saved to your Google Account and won’t be used to personalize your Maps experience,’ said Eric Miraglia, director of product management in Google’s privacy and data protection office, in a blog post.

The addition of Incognito Mode is a move from Google to offer more privacy to its customers.

But although the app itself won’t store location data while the mode is activated, there’s nothing to stop internet service providers (ISPs) from recording where you phone goes.

Incognito Mode was initially launched on Google’s Chrome browser in 2008 and it was introduced to YouTube earlier this year.

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