Google Announces “Places” to Search Businesses and More

Adam DuVander, May 20th, 2010

Google PlacesSoon you will be able to query Google’s vast database of local businesses. The company has just announced Nearby Places, a Google Maps widget and a web service, with its eye on providing data to users on the go.

The widget is a UI component that can be added to a map via the JavaScript API. It will provide to the map the same sort of data that is available on map applications available on some mobile phones, such as iPhone and Android. You can search for a business by name or other keyword. Plus, it recognizes geographical names and addresses. In addition to searching, the widget can “Snap-To-Place” based on the user’s location.

Perhaps an even more exciting part of Places is its web service. The Google Places API will provide data via XML or JSON. The result is that the data can be used with a little more freedom. For example, you could manipulate results server-side, or use them in a native mobile application. However, as with all Google Maps web services, the terms require that a user-facing Google Map be used at some point in the process. Yahoo’s has had a local search web service for several years with terms that seem less strict.

The web service also won’t be available until July, but developers can apply now, giving Google use cases and traffic estimates. This is a huge change from Google’s recent pattern of providing anonymous access to its web services. The company claims the reason is the risk of scraping, since business listings are viewed as valuable data.

With the rise of mobile applications, especially location-sharing apps like FourSquare, many are calling for calling for an open place database. Could Google’s business listings provide a unique ID, similar to Yahoo’s Where On Earth ID for cities and countries? It’s not exactly open, but with Google behind a database developers will be less fearful that the data will go away. However, the strict terms of service may make this a non-starter. I still expect there will be at least one viable attempt at an open place database this year. And it’s already competing with Google before it starts.

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5 Responses to “Google Announces “Places” to Search Businesses and More”

May 20th, 2010
at 5:37 am
Comment by: Vladimir

What’s the principal difference between new “Places Web Service” and “Google AJAX API for Local Search” ( http://code.google.com/apis/ajaxsearch/local.html )?

May 21st, 2010
at 2:33 am
Comment by: 3 Reasons Google Isn’t Too Late With the Latitude API

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May 22nd, 2010
at 12:39 pm
Comment by: Google Latitude Not Too Late In Location Game…05.22.10 « The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian's Weblog

[...] post. And, as with most things the company does, it will solve the check-in with technology. Its new Places API can “snap-to-place.” Expect this incorporated into [...]

May 26th, 2010
at 8:35 am
Comment by: Google Latitude » scriblogs

[...] post. And, as with most things the company does, it will solve the check-in with technology. Its new Places API can “snap-to-place.” Expect this incorporated into [...]

May 11th, 2011
at 8:45 am
Comment by: Google Takes Places Public with Needed Features and 100,000 Daily Calls

[...] Google Places API available to all developers, after nearly a year in closed beta. The API, first announced a year ago, returns business listings based on location. The search giant also added features that make the [...]

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