Back in late 2009, Google announced Place Pages for Google Maps, a service that allows maps users to gather details such as pictures, videos, menus, prices, parking info reviews of local businesses and points of interest and the ability to reserve tables at local restaurants that use the OpenTable service. Today, Google announced a 4.4 update to its Google Maps application, which brings the Places service as a standalone application for Android 1.6+ devices.
Places also integrates itself into Google Maps by adding a restaurant layer, which once you select a location takes to you to the places page for nearby restaurants. From there, you will be able to map the location, get directions, call the location, or even view the location in Street View.
The main screen has built-in searches for restaurants, coffee, bars, hotels, attractions, ATMs, Gas Stations, and the ability to add your own custom searches for future one-click access, as well as a search bar at the top of the application.
Places contains most of the information you could ever hope to learn about local businesses and places of interest, with convenient integration with Google Maps. With this launch, Google hopes to become your one-stop shop for your entire mobile experience on the Android platform. I see Places becoming Google’s next killer feature for Android, and will be using this to find new places I might not have heard of otherwise.
No word on what the launch of Places within Google Maps means for the Places Directory standalone application, which was also updated today. Hopefully there will be more to come from Google on this in coming weeks.
The maps 4.4 update with Places integration is now available for on the Android market for all phones running Android 1.6 and above. Head over to the market and update/download it today!