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Turn your Google Maps into a time machine: so you can see what your street was like years ago

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Since google cars pass through the busiest city streets with some frequency, Google maps offers a kind of time jump with the view that was captured in specific years. From the mobile you cannot jump in time as such, you can navigate through specific years using Street View. We explain how.

Google not only revolutionized digital mapping by offering free maps and satellite views to anyone, it also did the same with point-to-point GPS navigation: Google Maps and Navigation are the standards when it comes to mapping apps. In addition, Google introduced an experimental aspect that ended up being key in Maps: Street View. The real view of the streets was a revolution year after year. And we can see that evolution.

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Contemplate from your mobile what the street was like years ago

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The Sagrada Familia over time on Google Maps for Android. From left to right: 2008, 2014 and 2022

Street View cars travel street by street scanning the environment based on 3D photos to compose a realistic view of any place without actually visiting it. Google plans the renewal of the view depending on the importance of the streets. And it stores the scans so that it is possible to jump to previous years as if Google Maps were the mythical DeLorean.

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Mobile apps do not yet include the time picker in Street View, neither the Street View app itself nor Google Maps. In iOS, the year in which the photographic view was captured does appear, but it is not possible to change it. To do so, there is no choice but to go through the web version.

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The Google Maps application for Android does not allow you to jump in time directly, but rather navigate through specific years. To achieve this you have to do the following:

  • Open Google Maps in the web browser. Only valid for desktop browser: Google Maps does not offer the time jump in the mobile version, not even activating the desktop mode.
  • Find the street you want to view and click on the Street View thumbnail.
Google Maps Jump Time

  • Note that in the box that appears in the upper left area of ​​the screen: the last date of the photos is shown there. Click.
  • You’ll see a year picker appear with all the dates Street View passed the street. Choose the one you want.
  • Click on the thumbnail to jump to the specific year: you will navigate as the street looked in past moments.
Google Maps Jump Time

  • Now click on the three menu items that appear in the upper left box and click on “Share or insert image“.
  • Copy the link and send it to your mobile: when you click on it, Google Maps will open in the chosen year.
  • You can browse on your mobile by the year you have selected: Google Maps will show you the 3D view of that year wherever you move. To return to the present, exit Street View to return to the Google Maps overview.

The time jump is not yet available directly on mobile. But since allow you to browse previous years just by receiving the link, surely it is a matter of time (wink, wink) that the selector finally appears for the apps. It seems to us a functionality important enough that it is only found in the web browser.

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