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Google Street View goes mobile

Google Maps for Mobile now has Street View, walking directions, business reviews--if you have a phone that supports Java. That includes many BlackBerrys, but not iPhones.

Google Street View on an Android phone
Google demonstrated Street View on an Android mobile phone in May. Now it's available for BlackBerry phones and several others. (Click on the image above for an Android slide show.) Stephen Shankland/CNET News/Google

Street View endows Google Maps with a driver's-eye view of the world, and now people actually on the street will be able to use it, too.

The company announced a new version of its Google Maps for Mobile software that includes support for Street View, as well as walking directions and reviews of businesses. Google said the new version is faster too.

The new features work on BlackBerrys with color screens and on mobile devices with Java abilities. Sorry, iPhone users. Visiting the Google site with an iPhone produces this message: "Sorry, Google Maps does not work on your Apple iPhone."

The move isn't a surprise. Google demonstrated Street View on a phone using the company's Android operating system in May, hooked into the phone's hardware so the view would change according to which way the user oriented the phone. The Android phones are due to be announced Sept. 23.

Update 1:56 p.m. PDT: The Google Mobile blog now has some details and an explanatory video.

I downloaded, installed, and ran (once I figured out the new icon) the software fine on a BlackBerry. Launching it shows a start-up screen with the Street View person icon with brief instructions.

I did find the new version of the software somewhat more responsive, though data transfer speeds still impose a fair amount of waiting.

The Street View option is enabled when you click on an area; after a pause the software tells you whether Street View is available, and clicking the option overlays a pretty small Street View window atop the map. Using the scroll wheel pans the view left or right, again with some waiting on the network.