Here’s How The Images For The Google Satellite View Are Obtained

Judging by its name, you would believe that the Satellite View of Google Maps is based on satellite-generated images. However, you couldn’t be more wrong. Recently, Bret Taylor, Google Maps co-creator, shared a story about the origins of the app, and we were able to learn something new.

It appears that the satellite view on Google Maps was supposed to have a different name, one that would have been more accurate. When the satellite view was ready to be launched, the team had a meeting in order to decide the name of the upcoming product.

In 2005, Google’s exec team (Larry, Sergey, etc) had a weekly product review meeting. We had launched Google Maps in February, and by summer, we’d integrated satellite imagery from our Keyhole (aka Google Earth) acquisition and were ready to launch — so we set up a launch review.

— Bret Taylor (@btaylor) February 23, 2019

There have been many suggestions and “satellite” and “aerial” were two of the most common ones. At one point Sergey Brin suggested “bird mode”, which seemed to be the winner. Nonetheless, things did not go as expected.

The coderes were the ones that had the final word, and they ended up launching the feature with the “Satellite View” name. However, here’s the catch. It appears that most of the images used for the satellite view, are in fact captured through aerial photography. This means that the name of this mode is in fact a bit of a lie.

There was a geeky holy war on the Maps team. When Lars checked in the code to switch between maps and imagery, he called it “Satellite.” We were quickly informed that a significant % of the images were taken from airplanes — “Aerial Photography.” Our name was factually incorrect.

— Bret Taylor (@btaylor) February 23, 2019

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