Google finally launched its controversial StreetView service in Germany yesterday, but in a small Alpine town instead of a major city.
The firm claims it opted to launch in Oberstaufen following a special request from the town’s mayor, but said it will soon launch views from 20 major cities to complement images of football stadia and tourist attractions already uploaded.
Wieland Holford, head of Google’s Munich development center, is confident Germans will warm to StreetView claiming “hundreds of thousands” already use the service to plan vacations in countries where the service isn’t restricted.
StreetView has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons this year, as Google revealed it captured hundreds of megabytes of personal Wi-Fi data while photographing streets in several countries.
Germany began investigating the problem in May, and Google even faced the prospect of criminal charges in Hamburg.
The search firm agreed a unique opt-out scheme to dodge a ban, which allows users to request that images are blurred before the service goes live. Previously Google only offered the service post-launch.
However the firm says it won’t meet all demands for blurring when it adds more cities in Germany, after being swamped by around 250,000 requests, the BBC reported.
StreetView product manager Andreas Turk last month revealed there would be some problems when StreetView goes live due to the complexity of the blurring process.
“We’ve worked very hard to keep the numbers as low as possible, but in any system like this there will be mistakes,” he wrote in a company blog.