Afraid of heights? Explore Yosemite’s El Capitan from your couch with Street View

afraid of heights explore yosemites el capitan from your couch with street view alex king swing
Considering the decidedly off-road locales its camera rigs have visited in recent years, Google’s Street View has become a bit of a misnomer. The program’s specially-designed equipment has descended the depths of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, recorded from the tip of the Burj Khalifa, traversed zip lines above the Amazon rainforest, and walked the precipices of Mount Fuji to form a library of panoramas so incredible as to make the latest subject, Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan, sound mundane by comparison. But that’s unfairly dismissive — for what Google’s calling the “first-ever vertical Street View collection,” the company partnered with expert climbers to capture photos along sheer rock face wall.

Fitting squarely into the amazing-to-see-but-terrifying-to-imagine category of extracurriculars, renowned climbers Lynn Hall, Alex Honnold, and Tommy Caldwell mounted Google’s 360-degree camera array at photogenic spots — “The Nose,” “Changing Corners,” “Great Roof,” and “Texas Flake,” to name a few — along El Capitan’s 3,000 foot granite. It wasn’t a trivial task — Caldwell and Google engineers had to MacGyver a camera support frame with cams and ropes — but the team was able to accomplish the shoot in just a few days.

To mark the feat, Google has created Yosemite Treks, a navigable page of the El Capitan imagery with notes on each interesting point. (Two intriguing factoids: Warren Harding and two friends completed the first ascent of “The Pioneer” in 1958, and the “Great Roof” is the most difficult part of the route.)  “We’re bringing this environment that is accessible to so few to a ton of people, people who could never have been up there in the past,” said Caldwell.

Google has never let the enduring Street View go neglected. Ever since it launched the Trekker Loan Program in 2013, a volunteer effort to bolster the Street View’s library, the company’s sorted incredible footage from landmarks modern and ancient, man-made and natural. And the company’s continued to add features around the service, most recently Google Maps support for photo sphere sharing.

That’s not to say the project’s gone on entirely without a hitch– France and Switzerland fined Google’s Street View division several years ago for violating privacy regulations, and the service has generated protests in Japan and the Czech Republic — but it’s without a doubt managed to build the most comprehensive database of its kind.

That’s not stopping competitors from taking it on, though. Apple’s in the process of deploying sensor-equipped vehicles for the purpose of “[collecting] data which will be used to improve Apple Maps.” That “data,” according to 9to5Mac, entails 3D images and Street View storefronts for a future version of Apple’s mapping application on iOS.

But Google doesn’t have much cause for worry, at least not yet. Apple’s vehicles have so far been spotted in Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York, a far cry from the thousands upon thousands of metros of which Street View boasts. And something tells us Apple’s three-dimensional imagery won’t include universities of the world, exotic zoos, or the Lamborghini Museum in Italy at launch.


The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD boasts monstrous torque, intimidating front end

Chevrolet has released the first official images of the new 2020 Silverado HD. The big-bodied truck stands out from the Silverado 1500 with a polarizing design that customers will either love or hate.

Calibrate your display to get it looking just the way you like it

Want to see images the way they're intended to be seen? Here is our quick guide on how to calibrate your monitor using your operating system or another tool, to make what's on the screen look as good as it can.

The best weather apps for the iPhone

Don't rely solely on your local meteorologist to stay up to date on the weather. Take matters into your own hands with one of these weather apps, each of which brings something unique to the table.

Google’s updated Santa Tracker entertains and teaches coding throughout December

Google's Santa Tracker is in its fifteenth year and is back again with even more features. You can have fun with more than 20 games, learn about different holiday traditions around the world, and enjoy some festive animations.

The $200 TicWatch C2 smartwatch is now being sold in the U.S. and U.K.

Digital well-being and disconnecting from your phone is one of 2018's big trends. Mobvoi wants you to think about its TicWatch C2 smartwatch as a great way to help you use your phone less.

The Palm has been revived, and is now available in the U.S. and U.K.

A reboot of the classic Palm is finally here and it's tiny. It syncs to your phone and acts as a secondary device -- with a feature to help you disconnect from technology. The Palm will be available exclusively through Verizon for $350.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.

Yes, we really are getting a special McLaren edition of the OnePlus 6T

OnePlus has announced a partnership with McLaren F1, emphasizing a shared interest in speed. The phone company is known for producing special edition devices. Here's what we know about the OnePlus 6T Mclaren Edition.

Simplify your life with one of these wireless smartphone charger deals

Banish nightly cable fumbling with a wireless smartphone charger. If your smartphone is compatible with wireless charging, the simplicity of placing it on a pad is a beautiful thing. Wireless chargers are also excellent gifts for coworkers.

Microsoft Outlook for iOS gets big redesign, with Dark Mode coming soon

Microsoft has deployed a huge redesign for its Outlook for iOS app, which includes new blue branding and some quality-of-life improvements. Dark Mode isn't included, but it's coming soon.

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

Vanquish lag for good with the best routers for gaming

Finding the best routers for gaming is no easy task. With so many out there, how do you know which to pick? We've looked at the many options available and put together a list of our lag-free favorites.

Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5 now available on the Apple Store

The Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5 is now available on the Apple Store for $150. The sensor strip, which is only 2 millimeters thin, automatically tracks a wide array of sleep data when placed under the user's sheets.