Google continues to evolve its Maps for mobile. It has gone well beyond the rudimentary local search and navigation product it once was and become an increasingly sophisticated local discovery tool with and array of content types and improved functionality.
Now Google has made Maps more “actionable” with OpenTable reservations and Uber pickup and price estimates built into the app. For the Uber functions to work users must have the Uber app pre-installed.
The entire Google Maps app (for both Android and iOS) has also been redesigned to be consistent with the new look of Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and Material Design. It’s a richer visual environment and provides more opportunities for engagement and content discovery.
On the one hand Google Maps competes with “local search” apps such as Yelp, Foursquare, YP and others but it’s also competing with TripAdvisor in travel, as well as myriad other vertical startups. One such restaurants category startup I discovered yesterday is Reserve.
Google Now and the entire Google-Android user experience are part of the holistic approach Google is taking to mobile, location and travel. Accordingly it has advantages over stand-alone products such a Foursquare or Yelp or Apple Maps. But it’s equally true that Google Maps hasn’t yet become a true replacement for apps such as Yelp or TripAdvisor.
I’m also waiting for Facebook to finally launch a stand-alone Places app that will give all of the above a run for their money.
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