The race for local search and business discovery is once again heating up.
The latest one to make a move? Google. The search engine giant recently updated Google Maps application for iPhone, iPad, and Android – and it came with new feature enhancements that are set to compete with what Yelp and Foursquare are also offering.
Specifically, the updated Google Maps features the new business rating system similar to the desktop version launched less than two months ago. This five-star system includes Yelp-like restaurant reviews and ratings from Zagat (collected through Google’s own reviews aggregator, Google+ Local), as well as an Explore feature that will certainly look familiar to users of Foursquare. A local business discovery engine of sorts, the Google Maps version of Explore is focused on five categories: eat, shop, drink, sleep, and play. It’s designed to be a way to visually browse places without typing in the search box – helping users discover restaurants, hotels, destinations, and other local businesses they might like.
The new Google Maps app also features a refreshed user interface, enhanced navigation (with real-time traffic updates), a dedicated tablet design, and an option for users to discover local business offers (again echoing Yelp and its new “Call to Action” feature).
“Helping you find great places is what we love to do,” wrote Google Maps Director Daniel Graf in an official company announcement. “And as more of us use mobile phones and tablets in our daily lives, information that’s useful to you isn’t just about what you need, but also where you might find it. (The new) update is an exciting step forward for Google’s maps – one that we hope will make it faster and easier for you to explore and discover places you want to go.”
Here are some screenshots of the new Google Maps app:
(Image credit: Google Lat Long)