Google Maps On The Wii U Lets You Wander The World’s Streets With Your GamePad Beginning In January

While I’ve managed to resist the call of the Wii U so far, neat tricks with the GamePad like the newly-announced Google Maps app Street View integration have me sorely tempted. Nintendo announced today that Google Maps will be arriving on the Wii U gaming console in early 2013, delivering a unique Street View mode for the GamePad touchscreen controller that allows users to pan around various locations as they view satellite map imagery on their television.

Initially, I might have questioned the need for a mapping app on a home gaming console, which tend to be stationary, but the ability to take essentially walking tours from the comfort of your living room in a way that’s much more immersive than just panning around on a computer screen or mobile device makes this very interesting. Japan’s Wii U owners will be able to grab the Google Maps app beginning in January, where it will be available free at least through March.

Nintendo also discussed a special Panorama View app, which will feature 360-degree videos, not just static imagery, that users can pan around using the GamePad. This app was originally unveiled at E3, and will arrive in Spring 2013 in Japan. U.S. releases of both features are expected to follow their Japanese introductions.