Many of us who follow Google closely have noted how the search engine is pushing its Google Places service to the forefront, using Google Maps as the location-based backdrop for the local business search effort.
And why not? Places, which lets businesses list tons of information about themselves online as a massively indexed Yellow Pages, will be a real moneymaker for Google at a time when desktop search ads are giving way to more mobile search sales.
To wit, Google made an interesting change June 15 by replacing the My Maps tab with a new My Places tab on Google Maps, accessible when users are logged into their Google account.
This feature will help users who have rated restaurants and other businesses via the Hotpot recommendation engine in Google Places see those places on Google Maps instead of having to go to the Google Places Web page. Saved maps and starred locations are also part of the mix, but the real target here are rated Places.
This is a big deal for me. I get tired of going to so many different Google Web services pages so being able to access Places I've rated on the Google Places Webpage from Google Maps instead saves me some time. Here is my rated Places short list:
The My Places tab displays items organized by date. Most recent activity is surfaced at the top, though filters make it easy for users to sort and view their maps, starred locations or rated places.
Users may also click the drop-down arrow next to each location in their lists to delete any entries they don't want saved.
Thanks to Google's massive cloud, all of the changes will automatically be synced on the fly across Google Places, Google Maps, and Google Maps for mobile.
It's a small feature added in the name of efficiency, but on a broader level it will take on more importance as Google's contextual discovery and Google Offers local deals service pick up steam versus Groupon, LivingSocial, Facebook Deals and others of their kind.