Google has optimized its popular Place Pages, a feature that surfaces details about landmark locations and local businesses when users search Google Maps, for Apple iPhone and Google Android smartphones.
I covered Place Pages quite a bit last week, coinciding with the rebranding of Google Local Business Center, which small businesses may use to shape their Place Pages, as Google Places.
There are more than 50 million Place Pages, with 4 million businesses tapping into Place Pages through Google Places to get themselves noticed.
But those Place Pages can't help the bulk of mobile users who want to access information about local businesses from an iPhone, Android device or whatever smartphone they happen to be using. Until now.
This video features a Place Page for the Mama's restaurant in San Francisco, which a user can access through Google.com and by clicking through the restaurant listing:
Google advised us to try it ourselves, and I did, on my HTC Droid Incredible loaner from Verizon Wireless. I called up Google.com, typed "mama's SF" and clicked the listing on the search results page.
The Place Page was packed with useful info about the establishment. As the video showed, I saw a summary format for location information, store hours, customer ratings and reviews -- all of the same info we have come to expect from the desktop version of Place Pages. I clicked through the different sections for more details.
I also clicked the map button right on the Place Page to view the restaurant's location in the context of the entire neighborhood.
Now if only real-time Street View was applied to this search query in Place Pages on Google Maps so I could see what was going on there at that moment. Was the restaurant busy or slow?
Would that be asking for too much? I don't think so; Bing Maps is working on something similar, and, frankly, I expect it from Google in the near future.
Place Pages will be premier destinations for users traveling to foreign countries, or even a native New Yorker visiting San Francisco. It's so useful that one day we'll wonder how we were able to live without it.
No longer do we have to bug the concierge in our hotels for this info when it's all in the palm of our hands, and that's the point.