Google has released a version of Google Earth for the iPhone.
Announced on Sunday, the application allows users of Apple's handset — as well as those of the iPod Touch — to zoom in and out of a virtual globe. Google Earth has been available on the desktop for three years, and has been downloaded more than 400 million times, but the iPhone deployment marks its first mobile version.
The closest comparative product for mobile phones is Google Maps for Mobile (GMM), which focuses more on localised street mapping and less on a visual reproduction of the earth's topography. GMM is already available on the iPhone and most other mobile platforms.
According to a blog post by Peter Birch, product manager for Google Earth, the iPhone's touch interface allows a user to "swipe [their] finger across the screen and… fly to the other side of the globe", while the in-built accelerometers make it possible to adjust the viewing angle by tilting the phone. Zooming in is achieved in much the same way as it is in using the iPhone's browser: by pinching fingers together on the screen.
Also included in the iPhone version of Google Earth is the 'My Location' feature, which takes the user to their current location, and the geo-located Panoramio photos that desktop users can already see when they use Google Earth.
ZDNet UK asked Google on Monday whether a version of Google Earth for the Android operating system — the company's rival mobile platform to the iPhone — would be appearing soon, but was told only to "keep an eye on the [Google] blog".
The handset version of Google Earth is available now as a free download through the iPhone App Store.