Google has been developing their Places platform for a while now and they have just released their Google Places app for the iPhone that helps you find local business listings using your iPhone’s GPS. The app is pretty simple to use, and works a lot like the Maps app but with a little bit more information on the listings.
On the Google Places homepage you see a list of categories for places like restaurants, Coffee, Bars, Gas Stations, Hotels, ATM Machines, and more. Google Places uses your GPS location to pull up a list of businesses in your current location. Tap any listing to see the full details including address, photos, star rating, reviews, phone number, and directions. This is basically a lot like the Yelp app, and it even includes reviews from “around the web” including Yelp.com users, and Google Users. Once you sign in to your Google account in the Google Places iPhone app, you’ll be able to “Rate and Review” places yourself. Each place gets a star rating and you can give more detailed rating to different places as well and write a full review. For example you can give a restaurant a “smiley” or “frowny” face for Food, Service, Atmosphere, and Value.
Since it can be helpful to know how many ratings go into a total rating of say 4 stars, the Google Places app tries to make it simple. The Reviews from around the web section uses a nice color coded bar that shows how many people have rated the place in the 5 different star ranges. This way you can see the overall spread of ratings in one shot.
Listings can be viewed as a list or on a map. You can add your own saved search to the homepage. Just add a new keyword like “Karaoke” for example and Google Places saves it as an icon. Then anytime you’re in the mood to sing, tap the icon and the app finds places near your that offer Karaoke.
Another feature is the “Rate now” button which shows up on the homepage. The app automatically pics places around you and let you jump straight into the listing to rate them. The place attached to that button changes as you move around.
One missing feature for a places app is the ability to bookmark places. You also can’t upload photos. Otherwise, this is your basic Yellowpages type app. You could just use Maps app to find local listings, unless you really want to read/write reviews in which case Google Places is a simple solution. For more details Yelp still has the upper hand.
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