Thanks to a tip by Marc Van Der Chijs, we have discovered the sometimes frustrating but potentially useful City8.com.
A Google Street View clone, City8 offers visitors a chance to browse the streets of not only Shanghai but 40 other Chinese cities. The site operates in Chinese, but the lay out is easy enough to navigate regardless of your Chinese ability.
As for functionality, it certainly beats Google street view whose pictures of China can sometimes be very outdated and too few. That said, City8’s street view is also a tad dated (by the look of it, the “views” were taken around 2008) but nonetheless fairly comprehensive.
City8 would be great, if it didn’t have so many small glitches. First off, City8 gets very confused if you put more than a basic street name into its search bar. For example, you cannot input an address that has a number in it or the program gets confused and leads you somewhere completely unrelated. A few times the program has also directed us to places that have no correlation to the inputted address.
Another frustrating aspect is when in street view mode, you can only advance through the street by so much. Instead of going say half a block down as Google Street view does, City8 only allows you to advance by maybe 50 feet. Though the snail’s pace might be incredibly frustrating, City8 view makes up for the shortcoming with their map option.
One of the great things about this City8 is that it gives you the option of searching for things by map. We’re well aware this is also available with Google street view, but we consider City8’s functionality to be far superior. While in street view mode, there is also a small map which pinpoints your location. You can easily move this pinpoint to a new location, or simply move it down the street. This cancels out the inconvenience of the aforementioned short advance button.
Another positive for City8 is that it gives you the option of searching for things by subway line. We’re not sure exactly why this is useful, but no doubt it is.
The website also tries its best to give you the addresses of businesses and restaurants around the are where you’re searching.
While we can’t speak for the other cities in City8’s database, the Shanghai pictures are all quite up to standard. The pictures themselves are of good quality, and City8 does a good job of covering most Shanghai. However, since the site seemed to be confused with just about every other address we put in, we have to rate City8 as more of a novelty than a functional go-to website. It’ll get you where you want to go, but count on your patience being tested along the way.
By Patrick Keefe