Google capped a week of big location search and ad news with a new version of Google Maps for Android that is absolutely tuned for location-based services.
Google Maps 4.6 features an option to update the Google Latitude friend-finding tool in real-time and a new design for Place page reviews.
By running Google Maps 4.6 on and Android 2.2 smartphone, such as the Motorola Droid, Droid 2, Droid X or HTC Droid Incredible, users can now choose a "real-time updating" option from an individual Latitude friend's profile page to help meet up with them by seeing faster location updates.
This is very much a check-in feature, signalling Google's intent to seriously compete in location-based services with Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook and Twitter.
However, Latitude real-time updates is sort of a niche feature, as friends must also be using Latitude on Google Maps 4.6 and Android 2.2.
It's also experimental, so my guess is if it doesn't fly with the few million Android 2.2 phone owners using Latitude on Google Maps, Google will punt it for something else. Maybe a more functional Google Buzz for mobile?
Google also tweaked its mobile Place Pages on Android-base Google Maps to show users the refreshed design for displaying reviews used by Place pages on the desktop.
That means users of Android 1.6 and newer phones will see reviews from around the Web, as well as reviews posted directly to Google Maps by other users.
Searches may be refined by distance, ratings, whether stores are open now, neighborhood and related searches.
Clearly, Google's local search strategy is revving up in the wake of Marissa Mayer's appointment to run the company's geo/local business.