Google’s image-matching algorithms will analyze them at some point to see if they are also a good match for a Street View location.
Google has offered images on Maps for some time, but not directly integrated into StreetView like this.
A thumbnail appears in the upper right of the StreetView image (see below). Clicking it opens a new view of the location with a horizontal scrolling bar of images. Users can click any of the images to enlarge. Google is implying it will only use a limited number of high-quality images for any location.
Currently most locations (that I checked) don’t have this feature. If Google were to add Flickr images, however, to StreetView it would instantly be more populated.
Here’s an example where the new user images do exist, for the Paris monument Arc de Triomphe:
This is additional interesting information in Google Maps and will help reinforce Google’s position as the mapping innovator. However, unknown to most people, Microsoft has this same capability too; and in many ways a much more interesting offering in the combination of Photosynth and Live Search Maps.
Here’s the Live Search Maps result for Arc de Triomphe:
Clicking on “explore collections” in the left panel takes you to a range of Photosynth imagery:
You can then explore the individual “collections” (multiple shots of a single location):
In many cases the range and detail of images (including interiors) is terrific:
Photosynth is a really compelling product but the mainstreaming of Photosynth is moving slowly. While it’s integrated into Live Maps, as I mentioned, nobody seems to know about it. In addition, the experience is more awkward and disintegrated (because it requires a special viewer) than what Google has now put together with Panoramio.