Google has been striving to add Google+ integration to as many of its services as possible. The social network from the search giant might not have become too mainstream just yet, but when you look at everything that supports Google+, you just have to wonder if some day soon, Facebook will have a real rival to contend with. Google Places has been around for iOS since 2011, but just a few hours ago, the app received a major update, and is now called Google+ Local. Even if you are not a fan of Google+, you have to admit that the “Local” nametag defines the app’s functionality better than the previous moniker. The app’s name is not the only thing that has changed. The places you discover using the app will now sport Zagat ratings, and it is easier to share locations and your reviews with your Google+ friends as well.
To get the most out of Google+ Local, you have to sign in to the app using your Google+ credentials. Although there is the option to skip logging in, it is better if you link your Google account with the app in order to get better sharing options and the ability to write your own review of a place. There are basically three ways of finding places using the Google+ Local app.
- Search: The search box provided at the top of the app’s main page is pretty thorough. It accepts both text and voice input. Another feature of the search box is its useful filtering options. You can refine your searches for places by limiting the distance for the search, or by opting for places that have a respectable rating.
- Category Menu: The app displays a grid of 9 categories of places. The grid also has a Saved menu, where all your bookmarked items will appear.
- Map View: The map view in Google+ Local displays all the important places near you. The map also supports the same filters as the search box.
The Local app displays the details of each place you discover through it. These include the complete address, a short description along with contact info, and directions to the place. You can also add photos associated to a certain location, and view photos uploaded by other users. If the place is popular, it is likely for it to have a Zagat rating too. Even if there is none, you can view all user reviews and ratings.
Google+ Local is a good way of sharing your activities with your friends, as all your reviews are automatically shared over Google+, making things really convenient for users. The app is optimized for iPhone only, and is available for free.