How fast is Joburg changing? Check out the Google Street View Time Machine!

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Google’s Street View team last visited South Africa in 2010, just a few months before the World Cup – and in enough time for foreigners to use Street View to get around.

That was three years ago. A lot can happen in 36 or so months. Mobile usage is on the rise in Africa, not just South Africa, and if Google plans to be a dominant player on the continent then it’ll have to step up its game. Those World Cup tourists have gone, but in their place is a new generation of city dwellers: natives of Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban, who need tools to navigate the rapidly-changing cities in which they make a living.

Granted, having a car drive around the country’s major city centres, taking photos all day long, isn’t a a task to be taken lightly. It does take a lot of resources. It will take time. And Street View can’t always be 100% accurate. However, with more connected people trying to use it every day, having a useless, outdated tool does more harm than good.

To prove the point, here are some simple snaps take on a drive from Sandton, Gauteng’s financial capital, to the continent’s upcoming technology capital, Braamfontein.

(If you’ve spotted anything on Google Street View that is very outdated, drop us a line, attach the old and new photos, and we’ll publish your findings.)

Sandton and Johannesburg in 2010

Sandton and Johannesburg in 2012


Christo van Gemert

Christo van Gemert

Eleven years ago Christo started writing about technology for one of South Africa's (then) leading computer magazines. His first review? A Samsung LCD monitor. Hey, it was hot news, back then. Nowadays he gets more excited about photography, cars, game consoles, and faster internet connections. He's sort of an Apple fan, but will take any opportunity to remind you about his Windows-powered home theatre PC and desire to own a vanilla Android tablet.   Currently uses: Apple 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display, Apple iPhone 5, Microsoft Laser Mouse 6000, Audiofly AF78 Earphones, Xbox 360, Nikon D50.