by Rob Welham
BEIJING, March 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Google's Street View has gone live in Hong Kong. The launch had been much anticipated since Google cars were spotted in the city some months back but Google only confirmed that it was working on the enterprise a short while back.
Caroline Hsu, head of communications at Google Taiwan and Hong Kong, said in November that her office had been working on Street View for Hong Kong. But in an interview with the Hong Kong Standard, she declined to speculate on when or even if, the controversial imagery would be delivered.
Now the wait is over for the some 6 million inhabitants of the city who can now travel virtually through the streets. The service augments Google's mapping of the city which provides information about buildings, cinema screening times, business locations, Wi-Fi hot spots, restaurants and even maps and images posted by others.
Chien Lee Fung, the engineering director of the research & development center of Google Taiwan and Hong Kong said that the mapping site provides the names of buildings in Chinese and English.
However, he said English-language users may have some difficulty in navigating the site. This is because the ‘Search by building name’ function caters to the usual preference among Hong Kong people of specifying location according to Chinese language conventions.
Google Maps Hong Kong has six local partners providing information, ranging from movies and traffic flows to Wi-Fi hotspots and dining outlets. Users can type in keywords or an address to find instructions on how to get to a destination.
A close-up photo provides street-level details. Enthusiasts can also upload images and videos of their favorite places in Hong Kong. In addition to Hong Kong, Google Street View also went live in Macau, a small city to the south of Guangdong province.