Clear the streets: Google Street View is here! Yes, from today, if you live in one of 25 cities, including London, Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh, you'll be able to navigate 360 degrees through photographs of your town from the comfort of your browser.
To use Street View, zoom into the closest magnification in Google Maps or Google Earth and click on the Street View link. You can then use the arrows to scoot up and down streets, click and swipe your mouse to look around, or drag the little flying orange dude -- Pegman, he's called -- to new locations. Endless fun.
Initially, we were convinced that Street View was just wrong -- but that's before we could see our own houses. All work at CNET Towers has ground to a halt as we all rush to look at the various dives and garrets we stagger home to of an evening, although disappointingly our offices fall in the gap between two streets so you can't really see it properly.
We've seen the Street Viewmobiles silently cruising London's highways and byways for a while, and a quick glance shows that these pictures were taken sometime around the summer. Beckenham Odeon was showing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Unnecessary Sequels, there were roses in bloom, and we even spotted the Fiat 500 we reviewed in Car Tech in June -- the white one with the stripes, on the left of our picture. One Craver spotted his neighbour taking the bins out.
(Incidentally, this was the first press release we've ever received that was preceded by a separate legal statement. Blimey!)
Anyone hoping to use Street View to see what the queue's like in the sandwich shop will be disappointed, but anyone who wants to look at their city frozen in time like a mozzie in amber should be delighted. The towns supported are London, Edinburgh, Leeds, Bradford, Cambridge, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Oxford, Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby, Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Swansea, York, Newcastle, Dundee, Southampton, Norwich and Scunthorpe.
If the novelty wears off, you can also search for Wally of Where's Wally fame, who's wandering around Street View somewhere in his instantly recognisable striped jumper and hat. Or you could try out the fully immersive physically interactive real-time 3D paradigm known as just bloody going outside.