Updated at 9:33 a.m. PDT to correct navigation details. Updated at 1:29 p.m. PDT with screenshots.
Google Earth for iPhone isn't the only geographically significant news Monday for Apple phone users. It appears that the second beta version of the iPhone 2.2 firmware is out, and it includes not just Google's Street View, but also navigation instructions to give people step-by-step directions when walking or on the bus.
According to screenshots posted at iPhoneYap.com, the navigational instructions work for driving, walking, and the bus. Given Google's recent Google Maps improvements, I wouldn't be surprised to see it working for subways and other public transit, too.
With the current iPhone 2.1 firmware, the phone gives only driving directions.
The Street View addition to the iPhone was expected, but the screenshots show a bit better how it likely will work. It includes not just the driver's view of the world, but also a small inset map that shows street names and the orientation of the view.
And as with the Maps application, there's an unobtrusive gray Google logo in the lower-right corner of the screen.
When I asked Google Earth Product Manager Peter Birch on Friday about when we'd see Street View for the iPhone, he was unsurprisingly enthusiastic but noncommittal.
"We had the opportunity to work with Apple from the beginning to get Google Maps integrated in the phone, which creates a great maps experience. We'd like to see the (other maps) features we've developed get to the iPhone as quickly as possible," Burch said. "I'd fully expect that over time, it will continue to bring in features."
Google can't release its iPhone software directly, as it can with the Android phone operating system or the Google Maps for Mobile application running on Java-enabled phones such as BlackBerrys. "Things are different on the iPhone," Birch added.
About 6.9 million iPhone 3G models sold in the third quarter, making it an increasingly important product for Apple and for anyone offering applications on the phone and its close relative, the iPod Touch.
Also in the second beta, according to MacRumors, the 2.2 release notes "indicated that line-in audio accessories are now supported in the SDK," or software development kit. So perhaps the iPhone and iPod Touch will become a better audio recorder.
No word yet on whether the new beta will make another round of improvements to what I find the single most annoying aspect of the iPhone: the persistent, if reduced, problem of dropped calls.