Yesterday Google began offering a downloadable application that extends its Google Local service to some mobile phone users.

Called Google Local for mobile, the application lets users search for locations and then view them on a map. They can also view the location as a satellite image and get driving directions. Also, when users find a listing through the service, they can click on the phone number and automatically place a call to the number.

Users can shift their view of the map or zoom, just as they can drag and zoom in on maps in Google Local on computers.

Users of mobile phones that can download Java applications can use the service, which is now available only in the US. That means Cingular Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA customers with certain phones can download the application but Verizon Communications, Alltel and US Cellular customers won't be able to use it. Nextel, BlackBerry and Palm devices are not supported.

The application is free to download, but customers will be charged data access fees by their operators to use it.

Google has already offered other mobile services. For example, mobile phone users can send text messages to Google asking for the location of a business or for driving directions. Mobile users with web-enabled phones can also search the internet using a mobile version of Google.

Yahoo also has a number of services optimised for mobile users, such as search, downloadable games and photo-sharing services.