Perhaps you recall that late last year, Google was in discussions to buy Yelp. Despite a supposed offer of $550 million plus earn-outs, Yelp walked away from the deal. But that isn’t stopping Google for entering Yelp’s business. Today, Google continues their fast-moving assault on local and location with a revamped Google Maps for mobile.
Central to Maps for mobile 4.4 is Google Places, the newer component of Maps which shows you, you guessed it, places nearby. But it’s much more than just another layer in Google Maps, with this release on every Android phone (1.6 and later), there will now be a dedicated Places icon that appears in the Android app launcher. So yes, Google just basically gave Places its own new app.
Clicking on this Places app takes you to a screen that shows you an overview of things nearby including Coffee, Bars, Hotels, Attractions, ATMs, and Gas Stations are some of the default ones. But guess what’s first on that list? Restaurants. Yep, the same restaurants that are central to Yelp’s core business. Of course, Google Places lacks the Yelp’s community of reviewers. But as you can see on each restaurant page, they have plenty of their own reviews that they’re pulling in — including reviews from publications like Zagat.
With the click of one icon on these pages, you can get directions or call to make a reservation. Obviously, you can also see details such as prices and menus.
One thing Google hasn’t connected just yet is the ability to check-in to these places. That’s a newer feature of Yelp’s mobile apps, and of course, the key ingredient of apps such as Foursquare and Gowalla. You can bet that this will come to Google Places too, as the Google Latitude API now allows for this functionality.
To find Maps for mobile 4.4, you can search in the Android Market for “Google Maps” (or click here on your Android phone). Google also notes that the revamped Places will be coming to BlackBerry users soon as well. No word on iPhone users.
Update: And even more intrigue.