New Google Map Feature Offers ‘Immersive View’ of Streets

An aerial map similar to Google Maps, with three light-blue location pins.

© Sheng Li - iStock / Getty Images Plus

A new Google feature may help house hunters get an aerial look at neighborhoods and communities before they visit in person. Some recent descriptions of the new feature describe it as a 3D view that is like flying a drone over an area.

The Google Maps’ new “immersive view” feature is limited to only a few markets so far, such as New York and Los Angeles, but Google says more areas will be added soon.

Google Maps’ immersive view displays an aerial street view that allows users to drop to street level for a closer look. Users can see nearby areas. The feature allows users to better understand an area’s topography and rotate their perspective to look between buildings, to see nearby restaurants, and to scan the surroundings.

The images in immersive view are all computer-generated, combining Google’s satellite and street view images. “We’re able to fuse those together so that we can actually understand, okay, these are the heights of the buildings,” Liz Reid, vice president of engineering at Google, told The Verge.