With six updates in six months, Google Maps for Android has been getting plenty of new features, both big and small. A continued focus with each update has been on giving you better ways to find places nearby. In the most recent updates, Maps has gotten features like swiping between search results and info like photos, reviews, and more helpful content on the result pages. With today’s launch of Google Maps for mobile 4.4, Google introduced an even easier way to find places around you: a dedicated Places icon that lets you quickly look up nearby places and pick a place to go using updated Place Pages, just like on your computer.
On Android-powered phones with Google Maps 4.4, you’ll find the new Places icon in the app launcher with the rest of your apps. Press and drag it right onto your home screen to use it when you’re looking for a restaurant, shoe store, movie theater or any other type of local business. You’ll get a detailed list of all the nearest places and can choose one to learn more about it on its Place Page.
Search for several convenient types of places with the default categories or add your own for your most frequent searches. You can also use the search bar at the top to type or speak any query. I tend to use the “coffee” search a lot, but I’ve also looked for “gas stations” on the road, “ice cream shops” in my neighborhood, and even specific places like “Chelsea Market” on a recent trip to New York.
Of course, you’ll often want to learn more before deciding where to go. With updated Place Pages, you should be able to find all you need to know about a place, whether you’re wandering into a new restaurant or deciding from your couch. In addition to photos and reviews, Place Pages now have a bunch of new details, such as prices, parking and menu links to inform your quest for the perfect steak. You’ll also notice that the search results list now highlights business opening hours in addition to compass direction and distance — consider it your late night caffeine radar.
Google Maps for mobile 4.4 is available now for Android 1.6 and above. Just search for Google Maps in Market or tap here from your phone. The Place Page and search result updates are coming soon for BlackBerry users so keep an eye out for an update at m.google.com/maps (from your BlackBerry Browser) or on Twitter and Facebook pages.