Google has stepped outside (literally) with Google Maps by giving you a Street View of a few cities. It is actually pretty cool, and from the looks of it they must have mounted several cameras on top of a vehicle in a 360 degree fashion. Then as they drove along they snapped high-quality images to use with Google Maps. This is the result:

Google Street View

As you can see there is a new button on the top called "Street View," and when you click it there will be a bunch of streets highlighted in blue indicating that they have the 360 degree imagery associated with them. Just drag your little guy around, and when you drop him on a street the image pops up. Then feel free to zoom in and out (you can even make out license plates perfectly) as well as rotate the view. You can also move forward and backward using the arrows on the street.

Here are some tips that Google provides for using the Street View:

Google Street View

So are you ready to play with it yourself? Here are the cities that are known to have the Street View enabled:

This whole thing does remind me a little of the Technology Preview Microsoft is offering for Windows Live Maps. However, they only offer a view in four different directions where Google’s is actually 360 degrees.

I can’t wait to make use of this when planning a vacation to one of those cities, because I’ll be able to plan out even more of the trip by visually seeing what to expect. For example, wouldn’t it be nice to know if there were sidewalks available in a certain area or find out where the parking spots are? Sometimes you can’t quite tell from the overhead satellite view that they offer, so this will be perfect!

Source: O’Reilly and Greg Sadetsky