Google has been mostly quiet in this first week of May leading up to the big bangs it will announce at Google I/O May 10 and May 11 (think Chrome OS netbook and Android stuff).
However, Google's Marissa Mayer, vice president of local product management, unveiled Google Business Photos at the Social-Loco conference in San Francisco May 5. Mayer also detailed Google's location strategy a bit for the crowd.
Business Photos are pretty much what they sound like. Local businesses, such as restaurants, hotels and beauty salons, must apply.
Google then sends a photographer to local businesses in the United States, Australia and Japan to take interior shots of their business, capturing 360 degree views of the decor and merchandise. Business owners may also upload their own pics if they choose. Check out this process video here:
The pics are then added to a user's Place Page to give Google Maps and Places search users better perspective of what they might find in those shops right from their PCs, smartphones and tablets. Google explained:
"Just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you can't always judge a business by its exterior. Interior photographs are a great way to show potential customers what your business is really like. By enhancing your Place Page, business photos will help your business stand out above the competition and get discovered on Google."
Google's current U.S. coverage area for Business Photos includes Orange County, the San Francisco Bay area, St. Petersburg, Fla., San Antonio, and Phoenix, with expanded coverage coming soon.
Google has been steadily fortifying its Place Pages with reviews, ratings and recommendations, and Business Photos is just the latest step, according to Mayer.
Mayer said Google's location strategy is focused on exploration and discovery, interactivity, and new perspectives.
According to Mashable, Mayer said Google Places now has 5 million user ratings and reviews, and it adds 1 million ratings and reviews each month.
Mayer spoke with Fast Company after Social Loco.