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Create your own virtual Street View tours with Google's new map tool

By Salvador Rodriguez

11:15 AM PST, December 10, 2013

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Google is now letting users create their own Street View-like virtual tours with a new feature that has been added to the company's Views website.

Now, when users post 360-degree panaromas -- otherwise known as photo spheres -- onto the Views photo-sharing website, they'll be able to stitch them together to create their "own Street View experiences."

Google has been letting users share their photo spheres publicly since late last year, and it launched the Views website this summer. Users can create and post photo spheres onto Views directly from certain Android smartphones or by making them with their DSLR cameras.

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But until now, photo spheres stood on their own -- unlike Street View on Google Maps, where users can move from one point to the next. Google's new stitching feature will let users tie their photo spheres together.

"Whether you’re photographing exotic islands or your favorite neighborhood hangout, mountain peaks or city streets, historic castles or your own business, we’re thrilled to see the places you love coming to life on Google Maps," the company said in a blog post

To use the tool, users must first upload multiple photo spheres onto the Views website. They then go to their profile on the site and click on the "Select Images" button beside where it says "Connect images to navigate between them." After that, users can start connecting the photo spheres to create their virtual tour.

The feature is useful in several ways since the user-created Street Views can be embedded onto websites after they've been completed.

If you go on vacation and shoot photo spheres, the tool could be used to re-create your trip. The tool could also be used by organizations to create Street View tours of their buildings or campuses. If you're a teacher, you could scout your class's field trip before it happens to create a Street View tour, showing parents where their kids will be going.

Below is a Views Street View tour created by Google as an example of what users can do with the new feature.

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