Google Streetview does not exist in China, and considering the problems that company has here I don’t expect it will come anytime soon either. A pity because it’s very useful when you travel to a new place and want to check what the surroundings look like.
A few weeks ago Joop Dorresteijn pinged me about a service he had found that does something similar for cities in China: city8.com. You select the city you want to look at and then you get a streetview-like interface. It works pretty well, but because it’s hosted inside the Great Firewall it is quite slow outside China or when using a VPN.
I tried it out for Shanghai and Beijing and like the functionality and the quality of the pictures. Not only the city center has been covered, but also the suburbs. Even some of the expat compounds are part of the database (ours did not let the camera car in though, so I can’t see my own house), so you can check out most addresses in the city. Just type in the address in Chinese in the search bar and you get to the location right away. You can then move around with the cursor just like in Google Streetview.
The service is now available for 41 cities in mainland China, not only cities on the East (incl. holiday destinations like Haikou and Sanya on Hainan) coast but also in the Western parts of the country (e.g. Chengdu and Chongqing).
If you look at e.g. Sanlitun Beijing it seems that the pictures are before 2008. The whole shoppingmall where Apple is located is still under construction on the streetview. Same for pictures of my parents-in-law in Chongqing. Those buildings were finished in 2008 and are on the pictures still under construction.
Marc, thanks for the link. We tried it out for Shanghai and saw some amazing changes in our neighbourhood compared to when we left Shanghai in Oct 2008. The pictures seem therefore not that old as reported for Beijing !
Same in the USA outside of major cities. Many images in small towns or small cities are from 2008-2010 and are ugly quality.
It’s as if Google has taken a 1980s Polaroid camera and developed the pictures instead of using digital film.
Remember the *Good* ole days when you used to have to take you’re family pictures and wait for them to be developed?
Then when they came in the mail it was an exciting treat to go thru them 2 weeks later!