I, unlike anybody else I know, was one of those guinea pigs that got addicted to the test stuff, and have been using Google Places here and there for local recommendations for a year. I’m not going to say it had the best selection or leveraged my social graph — it just ran fastest of all the local suggestion apps on my Android device. So it is a bittersweet goodbye as Google has replaced Google Places with its new Google+ Local, a service that offers you reviews and impressions of local places from your friends and others.
The new feature is available as a tab on the left side of Google+, and immediately throws you into a list of places close to your current location and their reviews. It’s very cool, and organized by category including restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels and entertainment. Obviously the list of places is still a bit early, but since they’re pulling from the old Google Places directory, you may be surprised by how much there is in there.
Take a look at the screenshot below to get a feel for the layout, and see the tab on the left.
The integration with Google Maps is seamless and quick, and the UI is clean,w ith a lot of white space and no ads that I can see at this point. Whether you’re a Google+ lover or hater, this is a nice addition that bulks up Google+ even further and may mark some interesting steps into location based services.
Will you be using it?