Google has improved Google Maps with immersive views of streets from a handful of cities, as well as with miniapplications that can be embedded on a map.

The Street View feature places users at the road level, giving them the perspective of drivers and pedestrians in order to provide a more detailed experience of the location than aerial images provide.

Google debuted Street View on Tuesday with major roads in San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Miami, and Denver and promises to add more cities "in the near future".

Meanwhile, Google also announced it is now possible to build lightweight applications so that users can mash them up with Google Maps. Called Mapplets, these gadget applications will be available in the Maps site for users to choose from and apply to their maps. Currently in preview mode, Mapplets can be found in a special version of Google Maps for users who want to try them out.

Mapplets take the concept of Google Maps mashups one step further, Google said. Previously, developers could build an application on top of Maps and make it available on a specific Web site. Now, those mashups can be packaged as a Mapplet so that multiples can be combined on a single Maps Web site.

Developers can find more information about creating these mapplets in this documentation page. To allow for the creation of Mapplets, Google merged two of its existing application programming interfaces: the Gadgets API and the Maps API.