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Google Maps has rolled out a redesign – but have YOU noticed what has changed?
If you've used Google Maps recently, you might have noticed one of the most prominent elements of the user interface has been given a redesign.
Yes, the little yellow mascot in the right-hand corner of the Google Maps desktop window, dubbed Pegman, has been handed some celebratory balloons and a part hat.
The cheeky redesign is to mark the 10th anniversary of Street View.
The California-based search firm launched the feature, which allows Maps users to peer around a 360-degree panorama from street level, back in 2007 – just two years after Google Maps first launched.
However, Google was working on the technology that powers Street View as far back as 2004.
The iconic Pegman has been given a flashy new outfit to mark the anniversary
Since then Google has added millions of locations across the globe.
"Street View started out as Larry Page’s far-fetched idea to create a 360-degree map of the world," Arjun Raman, Technical Program Management Director Street View, wrote in an official blog post to commemorate the anniversary.
"Today, 10 years after the first imagery was published in Street View, people can scale mountains, dive into the depths of the ocean, scout out ramen spots, and walk through museums in far corners of the world.
"Over the last decade, a lot has changed – the technology we use, the appearance of the planet – but the goal of Google Maps has remained the same: to help you navigate and discover new corners of the world."
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He adds: "The world is better explored than explained. Street View gives you a taste of the places you’ll see in person one day, helps you remember the places you've been, and enables you to explore the places you might never get to.
"So pick up your phone and take a peek. Many wonders await."
The news comes as Google teased how it aims to improve the technology that powers Street View in the future.
The US company published a research blog last month that details the company's plans to automatically update Maps with information gathered from its Street View system.
The innovations brought to Street View over the last decade
Street names, house numbers and businesses clearly visible in the imagery gathered by Street View will now be incorporated into Google Maps, the research blog has revealed.
The new method of information gathering comes courtesy of Google's Ground Truth team.
The team writes: "While Street View cars collect millions of images daily, it is impossible to manually analyse more than 80 billion high resolution images collected to date in order to find new, or updated, information for Google Maps.
"One of the goals of the Google’s Ground Truth team is to enable the automatic extraction of information from our geo-located imagery to improve Google Maps."
Siphoning up-to-date information – like business names from store fronts, for example – makes a lot of sense.
When testing the new system on a challenging French Street Name Signs (FSNS) dataset, Google managed to achieve a staggering 84.2 per cent accuracy.
That's a significant improvement over other "state-of-the-art systems", the research team explains.