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Google Places released for iPhone

By C.J. CASTILLO
Jan. 14, 2011 at midnight
Updated Jan. 14, 2011 at 7:15 p.m.


A few months after launching Google Places for Android phones, Google has now released the app for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Google Places is a mobile app that helps you find places around you, such as restaurants, gas stations and hotels. You can also rate the places you find, and read the ratings left by others. This app is the latest in location-based services similar to Yelp, Foursquare and Gowalla.

When you open the Google Places app, you have the option of choosing from nine pre-selected categories, but you can also add your own categories.

Using the app is fairly simple. For example, if you select restaurants, the app will load a list of restaurants found near your current location. Next, you choose a restaurant from the search results and you can view the location on a map (it uses the Google Map feature on your phone), get directions, call the restaurant, or read reviews of the location pulled from Google from other web sites.

Google Places works with the latest feature from Google, Hotpot, which according to the company is a "a local recommendation engine powered by you and your friends." Hotpot allows you to share ratings with your friends and you can also read the places they recommend. The feature also tries to recommend places based on your ratings.

This is a very handy tool to use, especially if you are traveling and need to find a gas station or a place to eat quick. I especially like the ability to rate and read reviews left by others. How many times have you been traveling, stopped in at a restaurant just because it was close, only to be extremely disappointed by the food or service?

Google Places can be downloaded for free in iTunes for the iPhone and iPod touch, or in the Android Market for Android phones. In addition to the mobile app, you can also visit the full site at google.com/hotpot.

CJ Castillo is the interactivity editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can contact her at cjcastillo@vicad.com. Please send all correspondence c/o Victoria Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902

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