If you've ever made a long trip to a restaurant and were disappointed to find it has the ambiance of a Waffle House, you may want to check out Google's new business photo program, designed to give users an intimate look at the interior of any facility without having to show up in person.
The program is essentially an indoor version of Street View, where "Google Trusted Photographers" create a 360-degree panoramic view of the interior of a business and upload it to Google. When a user searches Google Maps for a particular business in their area, a list of panoramic views will be presented via Google Places on the top of the results page.
Users can then take a virtual, interactive tour of any business that signs up for the service to see if the location fits their eye. To be eligible for the paid service, businesses must have a Google Places page, which is free. The list of local independent Google Trusted Photographers certified by Google can be found here.
Google notes that not all businesses are eligible for the program, but says that most can participate. Businesses that can benefit most from the service include restaurants, retail stores, beauty salons, auto dealerships, small dental and medical practices and health clubs, such as a yoga facility, according to Google.
In addition to the panoramic view, businesses can add their own photos and upload "Point of Interest" images like store hours, menus, awards and interesting décor.
Although the program is still in its infancy stages, Google photographers have already started making the rounds in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, France, Japan and New Zealand. Let's just hope that, unlike Street View, the program doesn't result in a massive data breach that leaves Google offering apologies to anyone that will listen.
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