09/19/2012 05:32 pm ET Updated Sep 20, 2012

New Google Maps Feature Offers 360-Degree Views Of Business Interiors

Sure, it's fun using Google Street View to take a virtual walk down Main Street, but what about getting a look inside the shops?

On Wednesday, Google announced a new functionality that allows Google Maps users to drag and drop into retail outlets to see 360-degree panoramic views of the stores' interiors. Users will be able to browse a store's interior alongside its reviews and information.

Google used its Street View technology to capture store interiors. Since May, Street View photographers have photographed the interiors of thousands of shops around the world, according to Talking Points Memo, and Google is currently highlighting a few of the ones now available on Maps.

While it's unclear if a store's feng shui as seen via Google Maps will encourage people to go out and shop there, a look at a business's interior may offer more insight than, say, a blurry picture of a sushi order someone uploaded to Yelp.

Promoting the Maps service to businesses as a new and novel way to increase customer interaction, Google is currently enticing businesses to participate by offering $100 coupons to Google AdWords, the company's online advertising platform. Stores looking to join the program can do so by hiring what Google calls a Trusted Photographer. If none are available nearby, businesses can submit a request .

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