Up until a decade or more ago, only the federal governments and intelligence agencies had access to satellite imagery but that all changed with Google Maps. Apple and Bing and many other services followed suit and the world is now at our finger tips, though most of us still use the amazing technology to find our own homes on the world map. Regardless, the world is getting used to finding many destinations and looking up amazing structures via satellite imagery and with constant improvements, the experience is getting better.
Apple and Bing and Google all get their satellite views from Digital Globe, a company that made the headlines recently because of their involvement in the search for the missing Malaysian aeroplane. The company owns the largest network of satellites for public use in the world and provides views of up to 70-100 cm per pixel, meaning each pixel in the picture represents an object of the specified length. However, the governments and agencies have much better picture quality, so much so that they can detect individual people in crowds through their satellites. Their images have a resolution of 10 cm per pixel.
However Digital Globe is taking it up a notch, they already have views of 50 cm per pixel over an area of 700 million square kilometers and soon they will sport images of up to 25 cm per pixel so we all can expect more detail and sharper pictures.