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Google Street View, now with penguins

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(Read caption) Google Street View now includes Antarctica. Here, a penguin colony is pictured in Antarctica.

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Ever wonder what the daily commute looks like for the winged residents of Antarctica? Try signing onto Google Maps. Beginning this week, the mapping service will roll out Street View service for Brazil, Ireland, and Antarctica, meaning that Street View imagery is now available for all seven continents. In a post announcing the additions to Google Maps, Google exec Brian McClendon encouraged users to "start exploring."

"We often consider Street View to be the last zoom layer on the map, and a way to show you what a place looks like as if you were there in person – whether you’re checking out a coffee shop across town or planning a vacation across the globe," McClendon wrote on the Google blog yesterday afternoon.

"We hope this new imagery will help people in Ireland, Brazil, and even the penguins of Antarctica to navigate nearby, as well as enable people around the world to learn more about these areas," McClendon added.

The extent of the Street View images in Antarctica are relatively limited, but include some pretty spectacular panoramas of Half Moon Island, a locale populated primarily by chinstrap penguins.

Google Street View, which allows users around the globe a ground-level glimpse of neighborhoods miles and continents away, has long stirred up controversy among privacy groups and foreign governments. In August, Google announced that German citizens could opt out of Street View by requesting that their home or property be "blurred" on the map.

But the blurring process was a one way street, so to speak. As Google spokesperson Kate Hurowitz said in a statement at the time, "once a person in Germany requests that their home be blurred, it is blurred permanently, even if a request is made to un-blur it. There are currently no plans to refresh the imagery."


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