Google Maps for Android Adds Check-ins for Place Pages

Google Maps 5.5 for Android is being upgraded to include check-in and rate and review buttons. Meanwhile, Google Places gets a "People Like You" recommendation feature.

Google is looking to make it easier for Android phone users to check in, as well as rate and review places they visit in their travels.

Google Maps 5.5 for Android now lets users check into places on a Place page with Latitude, or add a rating or review by clicking these new buttons.

The idea is to make it easier for users to engage with the app, and generate input and content about the businesses Google is helping to market on Maps and Place pages. Google also hopes to boost the social quotient of Google Places with these features.

Google has more than 200 million users of its Google Maps for mobile application across many platforms and smartphones and tablets worldwide.

The company has been steadily upgrading the Android version of Google Maps, which gets a new version every month or so. Google Maps 5.4 rolled out May 4 with incremental upgrades, while Maps 5.3 launched April 5 with Google Latitude location history.

With Maps 5.5, users may also edit their home and/or work address for the Latitude app so that if their home or work address changes, they may edit these addresses within Latitude.

Finally, transit directions for the 440 cities charted in Google Maps for Android have been redesigned. Each page now includes a list of future scheduled departures for different lines, a list of every line serving the station and links to stations nearby.

Google this week also moved to make its Places local business listing service more personal for users. Places will now show recommendations, based on the Hotpot engine, from people who share similar tastes to other users.

For this "People like you" feature, Hotpot automatically compares the places a user has rated against the places rated by other Google Places users, and identifies people who share similar tastes.

Users need only go to Google Places and click on people's nicknames to see their full set of recommendations.

The move accounts for the fact that while users can usually count on recommendations from trusted family and friends on Places, not every friend or family member shares the same places or tastes.