Google is making its local-search service available from mobile devices, complete with maps and driving directions.
The company is expanding its mobile search options on Tuesday by providing access to Google Local from mobile devices equipped with XHTML (Extensible HTML)-enabled browsers.
Along with the mobile-browser option, Google Inc. is adding support for retrieving driving directions through text messaging. Last year, Google began offering a host of mobile search services using SMS (Short Message Service).
Google decided to offer a mobile browser-based version of Google Local so that users could find local businesses, maps and directions while being on the go, said Georges Harik, Googles director of product management.
“Were starting to pay attention to mobile and to put more resources into mobile,” Harik said. “The devices have been getting better and more people are signing up for data plans, so there are more people that will benefit.”
Mobile search is gaining increased attention from the major search engines. Yahoo Inc. last year made Web, local and image search available from mobile browsers. Executives from Ask Jeeves Inc. also said they plan to enter the mobile search space in the second quarter of this year.
Google, of Mountain View, Calif., has offered mobile search for Web results for about four years, and expanded it last year to include image search and advanced search features. But local results had been limited to a few targeted results returned as part of Web results, Harik said.
The new mobile service focuses specifically on retrieving the names of local businesses and information from business directories and the Web. It is available in the United States and Canada at mobile.google.com/local or from a link off of Googles mobile home page.
The mobile service provides most of the same functionality as is available from Google Local on desktop browsers, including integration with Google Maps to show the location of businesses, Harik said. The mobile listings include the ability to click a link to initiate a call from a wireless phone.
Users receive a two-box interface on their mobile browsers. In one box they enter what they are seeking, such as “pizza,” while in the other they enter their location by zip code or by city and state.