Google Maps for Android has a VR mode, thanks to Google Cardboard

Cardboard, Google’s virtual reality hobby that first launched as a kind of gag gift at its developers conference this year, has been making strides in the past month with new SDKs and a section of the Google Play app store specifically for Cardboard-compatible apps. And earlier this week, Google shared a relatively easy to peek at its large cache of Street View images on Cardboard through the Google Maps app.

The feature is somewhat hidden — for now. Quietly announced on Google Plus, the feature is currently only available for Android devices through the Google Maps app. To find it, you merely have to double-tap the look around button when looking at a street view. (The option to enter street view is available on the bottom-screen menu when looking up an address.) Google’s GIF explains the process well:


Even if you don’t have a [company]Google[/company] Cardboard headset — although it’s possible to purchase one cheaply from companies like Dodocase or even make your own — the feature will probably work on your Android device if you’ve got an up to date version of Google Maps. Double-tapping the look around turned regular street view into binocular street view on my Nexus 5, and moving my phone in space shifted what I was looking at.

One World Trade Center through binocular Google Street view

One World Trade Center through binocular Google Street view

The official Cardboard has supported some Street View locations since it launched, and there are several ways to get Street View working on Oculus Rift. Because Street View images can be so compelling and there is such a wealth of them, it could be one of the big sources of content in the early years of virtual reality.