Google Adds Street View To Mobile Devices

London -- Google Inc. has consistently touted Street View’s ability to help folks scout out addresses or entire trips, and has been steadily upgrading its Google Maps for mobile applications since 2007, which most people have accepted its usefulness, and now, it added free walking directions and the ability to find street-view imagery on a mobile device, the same as it has made possible with a desktop computer.

Google presented Street View on an Android mobile phone in May. Now it is available for BlackBerry phones and several others. The improvements to Google Maps incorporate greater accuracy with cell tower geolocation.

Street View empowers Google Maps with a wider view of the world, and now allowing real people on the street to utilize it, too.

The latest version of Google Maps for Mobile (GMM), announced on Wednesday, also added together new features with Street View are business reviews as well as walking directions service, both the features are currently available on the desktop version for a while. Google said the new version is faster too.

A post on the Google Mobile Blog explains, “Wondering if the restaurant in your search results is the one you are thinking of? Just click ‘Street View’ after your search to see the storefront. Not sure about a knotty intersection in your directions? Use Street View to see a photo, so there is no mistaking your turn.”

The benefit of Google’s Street View aspect is that a user will be able to see a photo or another image of the location, such as a restaurant storefront, Google officials said in the company’s Mobile Blog.

Michael Siliski, the service’s product manager, wrote in a Wednesday blog post that GMM could be used to see the image of a storefront after finding the store through a Google search on a handset. “You can also launch Street View from any address where we have photography, or simply by clicking on the map and selecting ‘Street View’,” he wrote. “You can browse Street View overlaid on the map or in full screen, rotate your view to see more of your surroundings, and move along the street.”

The new features seamlessly functions on BlackBerry’s with color screens and on mobile devices with Java abilities. But it is regretful for iPhone users. Visiting the Google site with an iPhone produces this message: “Sorry, Google Maps does not work on your Apple iPhone.”

The only possible negative aspect to the mobile version of Street View might be filed under “user error”; it would just to warn folks not to get so absorbed that they miss quickly-dying phone batteries.

Today’s announcements come in addition to earlier news of an upgrade to Google’s mobile My Location feature, which was first launched in November 2007. The upgrades provide greater accuracy in determining a mobile user’s location. Google uses data about a mobile user’s location from cell towers, and the information was not always precise. Sometimes a person’s location might be 1,000 yards from what Google was indicating.

Street View keeps on working its way from being an entertaining distraction to acting as a valuable tool. Since this update covers “BlackBerry and many Java-enabled phones,” it appears that increased compatibility is next on Google’s “to do” list.

Street View has been a disputable product for Google, because of concerns over the invasion of privacy caused by the fleet of cars sent out to photograph every meter of major metropolises.

Street View is currently available only for selected locations in the US, France, Italy, Australia and Japan. The service involves camera-equipped Google cars driving around mainly urban areas, photographing the views that a driver or walker would see as they travel down the street.

Google is expected to launch Street View in the UK by the end of the year, although a specific date has not yet been announced. Google’s vehicles have been spotted photographing parts of the country, and the Information Commissioner has given his all-clear signal to the service, despite protests by privacy campaigners.

Mapping is the latest big thing in mobile, with more users buying better-equipped mobile devices, many of which include GPS. Google’s new service is available for BlackBerry smartphones and many other Java-enabled phones and can be downloaded at www.google.com/gmm.
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