Hitting the road for a scenic drive can be super relaxing. Unfortunately, it’s neither a cheap, nor an environmentally friendly pastime, which both traffic and weather can utterly ruin. With Google Street View you can comfortably explore the world from your desk.
Google Maps is a nifty navigation tool and all the information embedded in the maps make it a great travel guide, too. Now you can even set Street View on auto-pilot and let it take you on the world’s most scenic drives. Here are 5 tools that make this possible.
This online driving simulator will drive your computer nuts because it requires a ton of resources, but it’s totally worth it.
Open the site and enter the start and end point of your tour in the top left. Directions will be shown directly below and you will see your trip marked on the map in the top right.
When you Start the Driver mode, your progress will be shown in the satellite and map view on top, while you can enjoy the scenery in Street View mode in the bottom left. The bottom right shows either an up-close birds view or Panoramio pictures that were taken along the way.
If you enjoy this tool, you should know that you can stop your tour and resume it anytime. While the simulator is paused, click on Config in the top left to play with the settings.
In case the driving simulator is a bit too resource hungry for your taste, try one of the lighter tools below.
Google Maps Streetview Player [No Longer Available]
This tool stitches Google’s panoramic street view data into a short GIF movie. At the top of the page, you can enter the start and end location of your trip. As you click Play, the route is marked on the map to the right and the images will load and start playing on its left. If alternative routes are available, they can be selected from a table below the map. You can control the pace of the timelapse and pause the playback. If you enjoy the views, you can download the images as an animated GIF movie.
Google Maps Street View API Driving Directions
This tool is a GMaps samples project. Enter a route in the bottom left, click Route, directions are shown on the right and — if available — you can click Drive at the bottom to be taken through the route’s Google Street View images, which will be shown on the top. You can take the timelapse movie into full screen and pan and zoom as the vehicle moves forward.
Presently, the tool only supports Street View in the US. Although you can set the speed to fast, it is still painstakingly slow. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to adjust the route.
Hyper-lapse is a technique in photography that combines time-lapse with sweeping camera movements, often focused on a point-of-interest. Teehan-Lax Labs have combined the technique with images from Google Street View to create Hyperlapse, which we previously introduced.
Hyperlapse is a demo product. Right now you can create your own video by placing A and B markers on a Google map, wherever Google Street View images are available. Short stretches work best. Note that while the hyperlapse video unfolds, you can pan and zoom as you would on Google Maps.
The Android app Street View Traveler is a proof-of-concept to demonstrate that you can travel the world for free with Google Street View.
Click Menu, then Load to enter a place you want to visit. You can also select from a number of presets, including natural sights, European roads, or peaceful drives. In case you’re standing still, click Move It! You can speed up or slow down via the respective menu on the left-hand side. In Manual Mode you will be asked which turns to take, while in Auto Mode the app decides for you. When you get bored, click Jump! and you are transported to a random place. Clicking Jump Here! (under Menu) will take you to your device’s current location, provided it is known.
This is a great app to do online sightseeing and discover new places on your Android phone. Unfortunately, it works with a general set of popular locations only. The one feature I would like to see is being able to select a distinct route.
Where Are You Going To Travel?
As you see, it doesn’t take big bucks to go around the world. The Internet can take you places you never knew existed. And while you’re there, why not explore them; it’s almost as if you were there for real.
What did you discover with Google Maps and which auto-guided Google Street View tours can you recommend?