One day I walked out onto my lawn in Sydney and saw a Google car with a camera on top. Later Google StreetView was launched and made getting around so much easier. Rather than following street name directions, I could go on Google Maps, turn on StreetView and visualize the exact route with landmarks. I am really bad at directions, so StreetView really made life better for me.
In China, there has been no such service, until now. Tencent owned search engine, Soso.com, has just launched their own version of streetview maps in three locations: Shenzhen (where Tencent is based), Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and other mountain regions of Tibet. Other cities will be gradually launched soon but it is unfortunate, Beijing is not yet live.
The fact that Soso released StreetView earlier than Baidu is quite impressive. Perhaps Baidu calculated, undertaking such an ambitious task in China would be too expensive and not generate a return on investment.
Feature wise, Soso offers the same drag-able view, ability to move up or down the street, as well as pan in an almost 360 degree way. You can also zoom in and out to get a closer look; kind of creepy if you captured by the camera, especially if you were doing something embarrassing. I know this was a sensitive issue for some people who were caught in compromising situations such as someone pissing on the side of the road or someone lying drunk at the side of the road or even being arrested by police. It will be funny to see what bizarre things they will capture in China! The below images were captured on Google’s StreetView.
Google has been able to implement StreetView in Hong Kong and Taiwan but of course, has not been allowed to in China due to domestic security issues.
At least for now, if you are not in Shenzhen or Tibet, you can explore the picturesque landscape of Tibet through Soso’s cameras. I love looking at the snow capped mountains.