Tuesday, June 2, 2009 | 11:58 AM
As an engineer based in Taipei, I frequently travel to Google headquarters in Mountain View. When I'm there, I'm always looking for local businesses to try out, like coffee shops and restaurants. I also forget where the banks and ATM's are. While Search and Maps can help me find the information I need, it's nice to have the option to browse a directory of places, as well. For instance, if I need some money, do I search for an ATM or a bank? If I had a short list of business categories to choose from, I could just scan it to choose the right one. After talking to some colleagues, we decided to devote our 20% time to building an Android application that figures out what places are nearby and arranges them in a directory format. Friends and colleagues tested the app and found it handy, so we decided to launch "Places Directory" on Android Market as a Google Labs product.
As the name implies, Places Directory allows you to browse nearby places in categories like Restaurants, Movie Theaters, Hotels and Banks. You'll see distance and directions to the destination, and if you tap on the listing, we'll show ratings and photos. You can also call the business or view its location on Google Maps.
To download Places Directory to your Android-powered phone, search for "Places Directory" on Android Market. We currently support US English and Chinese. Try it out and let us know what you think by providing feedback in the comments below. In the meantime, I look forward to going back to Mountain View and finding some good local restaurants.