Google takes street maps to the next level

The new Street View feature in Google Maps allows you to take a closer look at streets and landmarks in various US cities

Google has added a new 3D street-level view to its Google Maps service. It offers panoramic views and zoom-in features letting you read street signs or go window-shopping.

Launched on Tuesday, the 360-degree Street View of roads in San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Denver and Miami allows you to take a closer look at streets and buildings.

If the street-level feature is available, a button will be displayed on the Google Maps page for the location you've entered. Clicking on the button brings up a window with the view of the location. And directional arrows will move you around as if you were walking up or down the road.

Zoom in

You can zoom in on street signs, bus stops, landmarks, and other details such as shop windows. In San Francisco, Google workers drove around for about a year taking pictures for the service. In other cities, the images came from various partners.

"With Street View, you can virtually explore city neighbourhoods by viewing and navigating within 360-degree scenes of street-level imagery," said Stephen Chau, product manager for Google Maps, in a blog post .

Other cities, including European ones, are to be added "in the near future", Google said.