Google Maps Street View is fine for eyeing what a business looks like on the outside. But Google just made it much easier to open up Maps, then open up doors of select businesses to see what it looks like on the inside. Now when you open up Google Maps, you can pull out the orange Pegman and drop him on top of any of the new orange dots that will appear to take a tour inside a business.
Google’s been building out its Business Photos project since 2010, connecting businesses to Google-approved Trusted Photographers who will visit the location and shoot photos that eventually get stitched up into the panoramas you see on Maps. (So unless you’re hiring your own Trusted Photographer, don’t worry about Google Maps letting strangers take panoramic tours of your house.) The feature could prove useful for businesses looking to bring in new customers by giving them a sense of what to expect when they first walk in.
Expanding on Maps is clearly a competitive move for Google, especially since Apple’s now running its own maps system on iOS 6, and Amazon yesterday released a maps API for Kindle Fire app builders. And as The Atlantic‘s Alexis Madrigal recently reported from Google Maps (or “Ground Truth,” as it’s known internally) HQ, maps are especially important as a means for Google to bring the usefulness of online search to the offline world.