New Google Maps Feature Takes You Back in Time

Have you ever gone to an area you had visited a few years earlier and found that it just doesn’t look the same as it did previously? The first thing you do is check your GPS or Google Maps on your phone to see if you have the location right, but what you’re seeing there is exactly what you’re witnessing on the street. It’s then that you realize they’ve changed the area since you have been there last.

Google Maps is changing that with a new “time machine” feature when you are browsing in Street View. It allows you to browse in street view as far back as 2007 to see what the area looked like then. Street view will show the overall landscape, buildings, etc. It’ll even show your old car sitting in your driveway, the one you traded in a few years back and really haven’t thought of since.

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This new feature to Google Maps works with the desktop version only. Go to Google Maps.

To see how this new feature works, I started where all of us start when exploring a new maps app or feature: My own house. After locating my address with a search, I switched to Street View. However, the feature that allows you to go “back in time” was not available on this shot as Google has only taken one screen shot of my address.

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I then put in the two streets from an intersection that went through extensive changes and took years to finish. This finally gave me the feature. Near the top left is a small clock. If you click this, it gives you a slider that starts from the first Google shot of that area and ends with the last one. You can see the difference in the area between the two photos and can definitely tell if you passed by this way in 2007, then drove through now, it would look totally different, and you’d get easily confused, wondering if you were in the same place.

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GoogleMaps-McLean-2012

Because of that, it would be even better if they would open up this feature to the mobile app version of Google Maps. If you found yourself in a familiar area that suddenly looked unfamiliar, you could check it really quickly on your phone to find out that extensive changes had been made (All while pulled to the side of the road, of course. We don’t condone driving and operating a mobile phone).

Without having it as a mobile app, it just means you need to do you research beforehand. If you haven’t been to an area for awhile, check with Google Maps and go to Street View to find out if it looks the same way you remember it before you leave the house. You can also use the feature for just browsing maps. It was originated after the Japan tsunami in 2011. You can imagine how much that changed the look of the area. You can now flip through time to see what it looked like before the tsunami and compare it to after.

What do you think of this new feature in Google Maps? Have you tried it yet? Let us know what you think about it in the comments section below.