Fewer Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Web services outside of the Chrome Web browser have been upgraded this year more than Google Places, the company's local search service.
Google just acquired Zagat to beef up restaurant reviews for Places, which pairs local business information, such as address, telephone numbers, hours of operation and reviews with the concern's location on Google Maps.
But Google can't ignore its Places mobile Android and iPhone applications. With a combined 70 percent market share, Android and iPhone are the key conduits through which consumers looking for businesses nearby will access Places.
To wit, Google just upgraded its Places application for the iPhone to version 1.2.1, allowing mobile users to filter search results by distance, rating and price; filter places; and see open hours and read full reviews by Google users.
This is a big deal in helping iPhone users not only find local restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses, but also make decisions about which ones to visit.
After all, it's one thing to list a "place," but it doesn't help if it's too far by walking distance or car, and certainly not useful if the bar a user wants to check out isn't open.
In time, users may expect the Places mobile applications for Android and iPhone to get even more granular. The applications will flash local deals from Google Offers from cities all over the U.S.; recommend what the best dishes are at eateries and the coffee types at cafes; and even suggest places based on ambience.
ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick expects Places to incorporate Google+ content to let users share info on businesses with each other. That should further fortify the application's recommendation engine.
In the meantime, users may download the Places application for iPhone 1.2.1 free here.