the other street view

…there’s another one? I hear you gasp! Yes, it seems the old one about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery has struck a chord at – and they obviously love Google!

street view in brunswickThis is sort of amazing to me – I mean it’s incredible enough that a giant corporation like google pushes forward with a program of driving a car down every little lane and street in town and then stitching together the visuals, now we’ve got our own home-grown version!

Try it out at this intersection in Brunswick. Wierdly, that link, which I copied from the ‘send a link’ tool on their site, ends up displaying a street 300m to the north, so there’s obviously a bug or two there, but ignore that and start counting the similarities.

  • For a start, it’s called “Street View” – I’m sure the big G will have something to say about that.
  • You can tell which streets have the imagery by the blue purple outline.
  • How cute, they’ve got a little yellow man on a green arrow the you can drag and drop on aforementioned outlined streets. Where have I seen that before?
  • There are similar navigation tools to Google’s, but they’re terribly ugly and as soon as you try to drag an image around, you’ll see that they don’t work like Google’s – they really don’t work at all! (browser hangs… doh!)
  • On the positive side, the images are much higher resolution than you get in Google. The ‘large view’ shows it off very nicely. On the flipside, the bigger images completely break the experience of ‘moving’ along a street as each image takes it’s sweet time to refresh.
  • Just like Google, faces are blurry, but unlike Google, it’s obviously been done manually, by someone with photoshop and a blur tool
  • There’s a little ‘BETA’ tag to let us know that this software might have some bugs – well, they got that right!

OK, so I’m a big fan of the Melways street directory: it’s a great publication and I’ve worn out more copies than I can remember – they draw great maps. Due to peculiarities of projection, it’s never translated comfortably to the online version, but this latest venture just seems preposterous – especially when it’s been released with so many shortcomings. Isn’t there some business rule about playing to your strengths?