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Google unveils Street View’s very own ‘time machine’

Google is taking users back in time through the use of an innovative new addition to its Maps service that gives a before-and-after view of various buildings across the world.

Related: Google Street View Hyperlapse lets you take a road trip on your PC

Street View for Google Maps desktop allows users to view historic images of buildings and neighbourhoods from as far back as 2007 in what the search giant is calling a “digital time capsule of the world.”

“If you’ve ever dreamt of being a time traveller like Doc Brown, now’s your chance. Starting today, you can travel to the past to see how a place has changed over the years by exploring Street View imagery in Google Maps for desktop. We've gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world,” stated Vinay Shet, Google Street View’s product manager.

To use the new function users click on the clock icon in the corner of the screen that should appear when Street View on Google Maps is being used. The scrollbar-controlled time machine then lets the year or season of the area change and in some places the new buildings that spring up or are refurbished over time.

“Now with Street View, you can see a landmark's growth from the ground up, like the Freedom Tower in New York City or the 2014 World Cup Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil. This new feature can also serve as a digital timeline of recent history, like the reconstruction after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Japan. You can even experience different seasons and see what it would be like to cruise Italian roadways in both summer and winter,” Shet added.

Related: Google Maps is the world’s most popular smartphone app

Historical Street View will be rolling out gradually across all accounts in the coming weeks and its quest to map the planet in minute detail continues to gather pace.

Image Credit: Google Maps Blog