Google Street View is useful for getting an overview of the destination in advance – for example to explore parking options.
Unfortunately, the function in Germany is extremely limited, since there were major data protection concerns when it was released in 2010. Countless users in the 20 largest cities objected at the time, which meant that entire streets had to be pixelated.
Google then saved itself the effort of providing the rest of the country with the function. What this led to can be seen very impressively in Street View:
This means that you as a user have no chance to look at smaller towns or villages beforehand. But Apple has secretly followed suit and has now overtaken Street View: With the 3D “Look Around” function, you can take a virtual look around almost anywhere in Germany.
Since July 2019, 80 camera vehicles and people with camera backpacks have been on the road to cover not only large cities, but all possible areas of Germany. The results are convincing.
Nevertheless, Look Around currently still has a catch: you can currently only use the function on Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad or Mac computers.
For example, on the iPhone, open the Maps app and search for an address as you normally would. The small binoculars icon will appear at the bottom left. If you tap it, a preview image will appear at the top, which you can enlarge – now you can look around virtually as usual and move forward by tapping the road.
When you change the perspective, elements like trees and lanterns appear almost three-dimensional. The images are higher resolution and more up to date and literally make Street View look old as many of the photos there are from 2010.
How can it be that Apple is now allowed to show all buildings without pixels? And why is nobody getting as upset about it as they did back then on Google Street View?
Google was a pioneer with the technology back then. In Germany in particular, where the Internet is still sometimes referred to as “new territory”, the fear was great.
Twelve years later, the situation is completely different and the outrage is contained. As the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision informed Der Spiegel, only 15 to 20 applications have been received since April, most of which people wanted to be completely pixelated – by default, only faces and license plates are made unrecognizable.
But you can also object to the presentation of your house on Look Around and have it pixelated. This can be done by emailing MapsImageCollection@apple.com .