Google's Street View hits the handset

The latest version of Google Maps for Mobile includes the Street View image service, as well as business reviews and walking directions

Google has launched a new version of its mobile mapping service, which includes the company's Street View service in a mobile format for the first time.

The new version of Google Maps for Mobile (GMM), announced on Wednesday, also adds business reviews and walking directions, both features that have been available on the desktop version for a while.

Street View is currently available only for certain 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.

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."

Google hopes 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 to the service, despite protests by privacy campaigners.

The new version of GMM is available now for BlackBerry smartphones and many Java-enabled handsets, although it will not yet work with Apple's iPhone.