Google announced on their Google Mobile Blog yesterday an update to Google Maps, Google Maps for mobile 4.4, that adds the Places icon in a phone's app launcher, which makes it easy to find places like restaurants, gas stations, ATMs, hotels, attractions, and almost anything else you could imagine thanks to an "add" button.
AndroidandMe notes that there is "no word on what the launch of Places within Google Maps means for the Places Directory standalone application, which was also updated today. Hopefully there will be more to come from Google on this in coming weeks.
According to the Google Mobile Blog post, "you can also use the search bar at the top to type or speak any query" which seems par-for-the-course these days with Google.
Android Central writes that Places is "location-based, so it knows where you are, it's fast, and pretty soon it's going to know what you want before you do." They also mention that the update brings "more details of the individual businesses, such as parking, prices and menu items. And it's only a matter of time before Google adds some sort of check-in service, right? "
EuroDroid takes a slightly more pessimistic view when they write that "it sounds like Google Places will be of most use if you (a) live in San Francisco and (b) require pointing to your nearest Starbucks with reliable wi-fi."
I tried it out myself, and here in Berlin, when searching for ATMs (the first thing I did), it didn't give me any real results back in my part of town, or really anywhere in Berlin for that matter. From what I can tell, the quality of the results really all depends on the number of entries for these establishments that people post on the web.
Unfortunately, this update is only available on devices running Android 1.6 or higher, and can be downloaded from the Android Market.
Image from AndroidandMe