Photo Tours removed from Google Maps

Back in 2012, Google maps was given an extra feature – Photo tours. The announcement here on the Google LatLong blogspot site explains how they used to work… sometime in early May 2014, photo tours seem to have been removed – as all links to individual photo tours no longer work.

Here’s a video on how they used to look:

But now if you try to find a Photo Tour on Google Maps, you get blanks where they used to be, for example, the Colosseum:

Notice missing photo tour
Notice missing photo tour

and photo tours are missing from the image carousel in Google maps too:

Notice missing photo tour in carousel
Notice missing photo tour in carousel

Photo tours were one of a selection of Google maps virtual visiting options, others remaining include:

  • photos (submitted by people)
  • photospheres (generated using apps on phones providing full 360 degree views from a specific point)
  • streetview
  • Earth tours (combined with Google Earth showing birds eye fly by views, such as this one of the Eiffel tower)

Google guidelines expained how photo tours were created, using image processing and selected images from Panoramio and Picasa in this help guide:

Every photo is attributed to its contributor, and the more photos people share, the better the tours get. So if you have great photos of places you’ve visited on Picasa or Panoramio, make them public so they’ll be eligible for inclusion in these photo tours!

Here is the full help guide on creation of photo tours that used to live at this URL:

https://support.google.com/maps/answer/3093434?hl=en&ref_topic=3093390

Photo Tours

Google Maps Photo Tours are guided, 3D tours of thousands of landmarks and locations around the globe using photos submitted to Google Maps.

Watch a tour

There are two ways to find and start a Photo Tour:

  • Search for a city or country and look in the info cards.
  • Search for a landmark and open the carousel in the bottom right corner and select the box with the photo tour icon .

Here are a few examples of locations with Photo Tours: the Colosseum, Hagia Sophia, Kōtoku-in, Mont Saint-Michel, Moraine Lake, Sagrada Familia, Shoshone Falls Park, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Trevi Fountain, and the Arch of Titus.

Source of photos

Photo Tours are built from photos that people have submitted to Panoramio or uploaded to a public Picasa photos album.

Google Maps uses state of the art computer vision techniques to organize and relate all the photos in 3D and then group, or cluster, the photos according to what’s seen. If a lot of people take photos in front of a famous cathedral, for example, an algorithm selects the best photo. Photos that someone takes down from Panoramio or Picasa will likewise be removed from Photo Tours.

Learn how to add your own photos.

Report a problem with photos

To report a photo, simply click the Report a problem link in the lower right corner when the inappropriate image appears. You can then submit a report for that particular photo on the photo site that it came from.

That’s how it used to be… but accessing this help page now redirects the visitor to this article about Imagery and the Streetview overview:

https://support.google.com/maps/answer/3093457?hl=en&ref_topic=3093390&rd=1

The photo tour option is no longer listed:

Available imagery and views

  • Street View: See street-level imagery of a particular area.
  • Earth: See satellite imagery as a globe with 3D, life-like imagery, or watch a 3D Earth tour.
  • Satellite: If you’re running the new Google Maps in Lite mode, your Earth view will appear as satellite imagery instead.
  • Business View: See inside a business without leaving your computer. Or, add your own photos of the place.
  • Photo Spheres: See user-generated panoramas, and then create and share your own photo sphere.
  • Photos: View photos taken by users from all around the world and see photo tours of landmarks.

Well, for the moment, it appears that photo tours have been removed from Google Maps.

Perhaps they are to be integrated within StreetView in the near future – as the products shared similarities and mosaicing images is useful to provide a seemless transition when using Streetview. The photo tour feature may simply get absorbed by StreetView, and is awaiting re-release.

What do you think has happened to photo tours in Google Maps ?

Will they return as part of Streetview?

Share your thoughts below!

Car insurance from Google advertised in Gmail

Google has an unfair advantage when pushing its own products. Take Google’s car insurance comparison tool as an example. Just recently, adverts for the tool have started to appear in GMail – at the top of the lists of emails in the Promotions folder.

This is a very prominent position, the advert appears as follows:

Google advertising its own products
Google advertising its own products

These positions are open to all advertisers, of course, for a fee…

It is only Google that can occupy this prime location for free.

The advert takes the reader of their GMail promotions to the car insurance comparison research tool. The following screenshot shows how the advert appears within GMail when clicked… notice the calls to action to share the tool with others, not simply use the comparison tool – but pass it on too.

CTAs for advert within GMail to encourage sharing
CTAs for advert within GMail to encourage sharing

What do you think about Google using GMail to its advantage in this way ?

Car insurance aggregators (such as Confused.com) must look closely at these types of adverts and fear the possible domination of the price comparison sector by Google one day.

OK Google – voice search hotword (beta)

If you haven’t already installed the Chrome extension for voice search, then do it!

This is the future of search and the reason Hummingbird will change the way we optimise sites for search. The results are no longer directly coupled to individual keywords, but rather to the sequence of the queries. Google connects the identifiable entities and makes sense of the relationships between queries in order to determine the most relevant sites to return in the mix.

The linking of a sequence of queries is makes it possible to determine the intent of a search query without the need for ‘caveman’ terms. Natural conversation is all that is required.

To add the Chrome extension, go here:

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-voice-search-hotwo/bepbmhgboaologfdajaanbcjmnhjmhfn

The chrome extension for voice search
The chrome extension for voice search

To activate the extension, give it permission to use the microphone on your computer.

Then simply speak the search commands:

SERPs for a simple query
SERPs for a simple query

Google connects this previous voice search (What is the capital of France) with the subsequent search:

 

Hummingbird connecting queries
Hummingbird connecting queries

Notice that Google states it is ‘using the previous query’ and it also provides an option to undo the link.

Notice also, that the entire screen above the fold is taken up with Google extra info boxes – no organic search results are visible at all.

Google is able to provide the information sought without the visitor visiting any other site in this search journey…