updated 12:17 pm EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Clock icon on Google Street View shows earlier photographs of locations
Google has updated its online Maps service by adding the option to view earlier Street View imagery. Users of Google Maps can, in a number of locations, use previously-collected Street View photographs to explore an area, and be able to compare recent shots of the location with those from the same place dated from as far back as 2007.
Locations with multiple collections will show a small clock icon in the upper-left section of Street View. Clicking it brings up a slider that lets the viewer change the collection viewed to earlier iterations. While for the most part it will show gradual changes, Google notes it also offers views of much more significant construction efforts or changes to the landscape, including the construction of the 2014 World Cup Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil and scenes before and after the 2011 tsunami in Japan.
Freedom Tower, Google Street View
The new time feature for Street View is gradually being rolled out to all web-based Google Maps users, though there is no mention of whether or not the feature will make its way to the tablet and smartphone apps.
Previously, Google has been shown to be proactive in its use of Street View to record areas for posterity. It's World Wonders Project has mapped a large number of locations that are not usually accessible by its Street View car fleet, with notable locations including 76 miles of the Albula-Bernina train line in the Swiss Alps, as well as Scott's Hut and Shackleton's Hut in Antarctica.