Another week, another new Google app for smartphone owners. Google Places is a free app for iPhone and Android that uses your location to find useful nearby services, such as restaurants, pubs and cash machines.

This kind of feature has been standard-issue on dedicated sat-nav devices for some time and there are many other smartphone apps that do something similar. The advantage of using a place-finding app from Google, however is the sheer number of other people who are likely to use it and this is particularly useful when it comes to the Places feature.

As well as finding nearby places of interest, Google Place also lets user write a review. So, rather than settle for the nearest purveyor of a cold Ginster’s Pasty, you can drive a little further to find the best.

More seriously, this kind of rating feature is useful when it comes to finding somewhere to eat or local attractions, plus you can add your places to the online database for a degree of personalisation. The more ratings you give to places you visit, the better the app will get at recommending similar places to you too.

Although you can give a detailed write-up of your favourite (and not-so-favourite, of course) places in Google Place, the mobile app is best used just for quick five-star ratings and optional ratings for such things as service and atmosphere — the kind of things you can do while you’re waiting to be served in a takeaway, for example. More detailed reviews can then be made using your desktop computer and the Places web site.

[Google Places]

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