Last night, I finally got around to downloading the newest iPhone firmware (v2.2) that was released Friday. It includes enhancements to browsing in Safari, Podcast integration, the option to deactivate typing auto correct (thank you!) and Google Street View.
The latter stands out among all the new features and is being touted as the new release’s centerpiece. And rightly so — it’s a nice integration that places a little icon right next to the “pushpin” of a given business. This takes place within the native Google Maps application that is a standard fixture on the iPhone’s home screen.
After you click the Street View icon, the entire screen switches to landscape mode and shows high-quality, full-screen street view imagery. This includes the ability to pan around with your finger and advance down the street using similar vector buttons that navigate the online version of Street View. The application is, in fact (opinion), better than Street View online — which says a lot given the limited set of controls on the iPhone, compared with an online experience (mouse, larger screen, etc.).
The integration is also grounded more in searching for actual places or businesses, than just browsing around. In other words, Street View is activated after a business search is done and the icon appears to see that business from the street level. This differs slightly from the online version that also lets you first activate street view, and then place an icon on the map to determine where to get started.
Interestingly, the latest software update also comes with walking directions — something we speculated about and asked for back in July. It should be a valuable addition.