Google Street View Introduces the Pancake

This new way of interacting should make Street View much more intuitive

Google Street View is a great tool but some found the way you navigate from one picture to the next rather confusing or at least annoying. As a result, the search giant decided to address this issue and, as such, it launched the “pancake” feature, which allows users to just double click on the place or object they would like to see.

“Today, we are really excited to introduce a new mode of navigation which liberates you from the road arrows and gets you where you want to go in just a few clicks,” said the post on the Google Lat Long Blog.

The Mountain View-based company says that it's been able to bring this functionality by making a “compact representation of the building facade and road geometry for all the Street View panoramas using laser point clouds and differences between consecutive pictures.” The pancake is a actually a custom mouse cursor that you can move inside the picture to focus on certain objects or places. It's called the pancake because it looks like one, flat against the buildings or roads. What is interesting is that, because Street View has a simple 3D representation of the picture, moving the mouse changes its shape according to the surfaces.

Double clicking on the pancake will bring up the photo that is best suited for viewing the panorama in that direction. But if you are already viewing the best photo, the pancake will allow you to zoom in on a certain part showing you more details. Another welcomed feature is the ability to go back to the original view of the street by clicking the return arrow as previously you could only go back and forth with the arrows. This should make it faster and easier to get to the point you want to see.

This may not sound very exciting in writing so the best way is to see it for yourselves:

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