Google Street Views: No Excuse for Getting Lost

Google's Street Views technology is now available on many mobile phones, letting you see a picture of the address you're attempting to navigate to.

Can't find the office park or doctor's office you're looking for? No problem. Google's Street Views technology is now available on many mobile phones, letting you see a picture of the address you're attempting to navigate to.

If you haven't used the Web-based version of Google's Street Views, I highly suggest you check it out. Essentially, Google employees are driving on most major roads in the U.S. (and several countries in Europe) with cameras mounted to the top of a car, taking continuous pictures of everything that they pass. The pictures are then uploaded to Google's servers, where they are stitched together to form a continuous image.

If you use Google Maps on the Web and set up some driving directions, you can often click on the "Street Views" feature to see a live picture of the address for which you searched. If you're going somewhere unfamiliar, this can be a boon in helping locate the building you really need. Confined to the Web, this feature was only moderately useful. Until recently.

Google launched a new version of Google Maps for Mobile with the same street-level imagery available on desktop. Wondering if the restaurant in your search results is the one you're thinking of? Just click "Street View" after your search to see the storefront. Unsure about a complicated intersection in your directions? Use Street View to see a photo, so there's no mistaking your turn. You can also launch Street View from any address where we have photography, or simply by clicking on the map and selecting "Street View". 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.

Right now, this new version of Maps for Mobile works on BlackBerry smartphones and most phones running the Java platform (which means most consumer-grade devices). It will be a great tool now that convention and trade-show season is kicking into full swing and you may be traveling to cities you've never visited before.

But that's not all that the latest version of Maps for Mobile is offering. Google has also added other features to help you search for and get to businesses and locations. You can now read restaurant reviews, so you'll know if it's actually worth taking a taxi across town to that bistro you've heard about. And once you decide where to go, you can get there on foot using the same walking directions on your phone.

All neat stuff.