Google has rolled out an updated version of its Blogger online self-publishing service.

The new version features an enhanced dashboard, the ability to post blogs via email, a shared comments function and author profiles.

Google entered the blog business in 2003 through its acquisition of Pyra Labs. This is the first major upgrade of the free Blogger service since the acquisition.

The new mail-to-Blogger function lets users publish blogs from any email-enabled device, including cell phones and PDAs, according to Google officials.

To post a blog via email, users create a Mail-to-Blogger address in the Blogger email settings and then compose a message.

The new feature turns the message subject line into a headline and the email body becomes the post.

On the new dashboard and design enhancements Google collaborated with Adaptive Path and visual design company Stopdesign.

The result is a simplified sign-up process with tour pages that explain blogging concepts in more detail, according to the companies.

Other new features include 26 new templates, a comments capability with various levels of privacy and permission control, and a profile feature that lets users post a page about themselves with links to other blogs and blogging stats.

Google also added Post Pages, which gives each blog post and any associated comments its own web page and conditional tags, for customising templates.