Google on Thursday began to integrate Street View data into the web app version of Google Maps, bringing the feature back to iPhone 5 and iOS 6 users, however the roll out appears limited to certain locations.
The service brings back interactive 360-degree street-level photographs to iOS after Apple replaced the native Google Maps-powered Maps app with its own solution in iOS 6.
As of this writing, it seems Google hasn't completely integrated the Street View dataset into its iOS-compatible web app, as some locations supported by the full-fledged version built for desktop browsers aren't yet offered in the mobile variant.
To use the feature, an iOS 6 user can either navigate to the Google Maps homepage and search from there, or use Safari's search built-in search function to locate a specific address or building.
In the following example, the "Flatiron Building" was entered into Safari's search bar, which yielded the address and simple line map for the Origins store located at the base of the iconic Manhattan building.
Selecting the map image brings up a satellite view of the area and the usual location marker, with barebones map controls located at the top and bottom of the window. New to this view, however, is the small stick figure at the bottom right of the screen which, when pressed, opens a new window with a stripped-down Street View interface.
While panning and scrolling operations are smooth, there is no option to zoom in on an object and the image has not been corrected for pincushion distortion. As expected, the experience is not as rich as using a desktop browser, however the image quality is high and the controls are intuitive.
Flatiron Building as seen in Google Maps Street View web app.
Same view of Flatiron Building taken from the Google Maps desktop client.
At the moment, the service is not completely stable, as returning to the search window to query additional locations sometimes causes the map to go blank. A simple closing and reopening of the window is enough to reset the webpage.
The internet search giant looks to be implementing a staggered release, starting with major metropolitan cities like New York, and it is not yet known when the service will be fully functional.