Google continues to make improvements to the Android Maps app and today it released an update that integrates its Places Directory directly into Maps. Previously, Places Directory was a separate program from Google that now comes as part of Maps. If you were like me and had Places Directory installed on your phone, you can remove it after installing the update.

When you run a search in Maps the results incorporate the same content that Places provides. After the update installs you will find a new icon for Places in the Android apps menu, which you can use to directly start the Places section of Maps. Places includes a set of pre-defined category searches that display in a very clean graphical menu as shown here:

AndroidPlaces.png
Image courtesy of Google.

Places utilizes location-based services, so when you run a search for coffee, it returns the coffee shops nearest to you. When you tap an entry in the search results you will see details that can include the services the establishment provides and reviews published on sites like Yelp. The search results details page includes links to Maps so that you can see where the place is located, Navigate to get directions to the location, Dial to place a phone call to the establishment, and Google Street View to see what the location looks like.

Google Maps version 4.4 is available for Android 1.6 and newer and the update is available now in the Android Market.