Google Maps for mobile 4.4 Adds ‘Places’ to get local

Earlier today, Google updated its Maps for Android application to version 4.4.With six updates in six months, Google Maps for Android has been getting plenty of new features, both big and small.And  it’s actually even more interesting than we thought.

Key to the new Google Maps for Mobile is Places,a dedicated tool for seeking out local points of interest.Places  lets you quickly look up nearby places and pick a place to go using updated Place Pages, just like on your computer. With places,you can search for nearby restaurants, coffee, bars, hotels, attractions, ATMs, Gas Stations, and more. Places supports voice search queries, and even specific place names. The included Place Pages support provides information on each location such as reviews, prices, hours, and more.

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Once you updated to Maps 4.4, you will find that Google has added Places into the main menu. Press the Places button and it opens a new search tool.This search tool has a standard search bar up at the top, which Google says can be filled with typed or spoken queries. I tend to use the “coffee” search a lot, but I’ve also looked for “gas stations” on the road, “ice cream shops” in my neighborhood, and even specific places like “Chelsea Market” on a recent trip to New York.The app uses GPS, so it is location aware. Users will not need to enter location information when using Places, as it already knows where they are. The app also has a bunch of default search categories, such as Restaurants, Coffee, Bars, Hotels, Attractions, ATMs, and Gas Stations.

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You can also learn more about your findings with Place Pages, which have also been updated with a bunch of new details,such as  photos and reviews, with prices, parking, operating hours and menu links .

You might be recalled that late last year, Google was in discussions to buy Yelp. Despite a supposed offer of $550 million plus earn-outs, Yelp walked away from the deal.But that isn’t stopping Google for entering Yelp’s business with place in Google Maps.One thing Google hasn’t connected just yet is the ability to check-in to these places. That’s a newer feature of Yelp’s mobile apps, and of course, You can bet that this will come to Google Places too, as the Google Latitude API now allows for this functionality.

Google Maps for mobile 4.4 is available now for Android 1.6 and newer. Just search for Google Maps in Market.or click Here on your Android phone.The update will come soon to BlackBerry.

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