Finding places "Near me now" is easier and faster than ever on Google.com

Thursday, January 7, 2010 | 3:28 PM

Last month, Vic Gundotra, VP of Engineering, demonstrated at the Computer History Museum the ability to search by using your location as the query. Starting today, you can try this yourself by going to Google.com in your iPhone or Android browser and clicking on "Near me now" once your location has been provided by your phone.

"Near me now" was designed to address two user problems. First, we wanted to make it fast and easy to find out more about a place in your immediate vicinity, whether you're standing right in front of a business or if it's just a short walk away. For example, you may want to know what other customers think about a restaurant before you go inside (see quick video below) or what they have been raving about on the menu before you order. By selecting the "Explore right here" option, you can find out more about a place "right here" with just a few clicks.



Second, we wanted to make searching for popular categories of nearby places really simple. Imagine that you emerge from the subway station and you want to grab a coffee, but you don't see a coffee shop around you. You can simply search for all nearby coffee shops by using "Near me now". To search other categories of places not shown, "Browse more categories" provides access to our local search product with more category choices.

"Near me now" is currently available in the US for iPhone (OS 3.x) or Android-powered devices with version 2.0.1 or later. You must first enable location in order for "Near me now" to appear, and "Explore right here" works only if the phone provides location accuracy within approximately a city block.



58 comments:

salmonmoose said...

Isn't this just "Places Directory" in a web-page without the compasses?

Chmou said...

Any plan to make it available to the UK ?

John Weems said...

Can you near me now? Good.

lowlight said...

Why isn't this available for Windows Mobile devices? Another feature that Google is arbitrarily keeping from users who buy (potentially more) useful phones, rather than trendy ones.

Capone said...

People can blog effectively with geotagged features

salmonmoose said...

@lowlight

I would imagine mostly because MS has it's head buried in the sand when it comes to new features in its browsers.

This looks, for the most part like a webapp wrapped in a launcher, and would certainly be using HTML5 features like geolocation - which are not available on MS based browsers.

Until MS joins the party, expect to see WiMo and IE to be more and more placed last in line for development.

Thomas Costick said...

UK too, please. All I need now is the Eclair update for my Hero.

OctacularMusteline said...

A note to UK users: this does work in the UK, you just have to use Google.com (go to this address, and if it redirects you to .co.uk automatically, click on the link at the bottom of page telling it to take you back to Google.com).

I just tried this, it picked up where I was (Moorgate, City of London) and did a great job of telling me my local coffee shops.

And another note for people looking to test this, the Firefox User Agent Switcher extension means you can set your browser's user agent to 'iPhone' and test Near Me Now on your desktop/laptop computer. Don't forget to switch your user agent back to default afterwards though!

Mr. Choate said...

It would be nice if people living in Germany, that have American addresses could still order the Nexus One. Specifically, US military members, Civilians and their families. The Google Phone website is being restricted based on IP addresses. According to the US Department of State, more than 6 million Americans live overseas. I know this includes Americans not related to the US Department of Defense, but I think it is a market segment that deserves some attention.

lowlight said...

@salmonmoose

WinMo users have plenty of choices when it comes to browsers (yes, CHOICES, imagine if your phone gave you choices!). We not only have Pocket IE, but Opera Mobile, Opera Mini, SkyFire, UCWeb, Iris, Dorothy, and more.

The latter two are WebKit based, and can perform 99% of the functions as Safari Mobile.

Opera is the defacto standard browser for WinMo, and version 10 supports HTML5 just fine.

If Google wanted, they could support this browser, which has more users than both Android browser and Safari. They just choose not to for some odd reason.

I can see them leaving out all browsers but Android, but if they are going to support iPhone, why not support the next most popular browser?

Iris is sufficient for the time being, but I think eventually it's not going to be enough to 'replicate' browser support for sites that choose to leave everyone else out.

Jim Schoch said...

Yelp works just fine on my Eris

salmonmoose said...

@lowlight

I have an Android, I'm well aware of what choice is. I too could run Opera, or Mozilla browsers, but I don't know why I'd want to.

Supporting Opera doesn't help, as it doesn't appear to support the geo-location API unless you get a special build that appears to only be available for Windows anyhow. The differences would still mean building for another browser.

If you're not using Gears, once you've got an application working under Android, supporting the iPhone is a matter of checking for 2 user agents instead of one. Both phones run essentially the same browser, with the iPhone having extra hooks for gestures, and the Android having extra hooks for Gears. That is why all these fancy features get added for Android and iPhone, because it's a zero-sum equation.

Tota said...

What about makeing it available to Spain?

Thanks!

Dave said...

How come no 1.6? Trying to get me to dump the G1 and buy a Nexus or Droid?

Shanx said...

Just try www.nextstop.com from your mobile phone. This is another "it exists but let's do it too" effort from Google.

Rich said...

I guess my idea was good. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/mobile/addon/53633

dsgjax said...

I suppose the explore option could be useful but the rest is nothing new.

Using Google Talk or Bing's app on an iPhone you just say "banks near me" or Starbucks near me and up comes a relevant list with distance and options such as the phone number and mapping icon. My iPhone GPS app also does this.

Yawn.

Jope said...

Just tried it in Madrid on my iPhone, and it works like a charm.

You do need to go to google.com and not google.es (it doesn't show the 'near me now' link, but allows you to update your location, though).

gio@custom-creations.com said...

I will try this on my new Nexus One RIGHT NOW! @kraziegolf

iHing said...

Seems similar to the iPhone App called Yelp.

magnusdopus said...

Tried on my Droid. The delay before the 'Near Me Now' shows up is really annoying. Will that happen all the time?

lummy said...

Can the Nokia N900 browser's user agent string be added to this view?

The N900's browser is location aware for all users who install the maemo-geolocation plugin and currently works perfectly with the iPhone web app URL for Google Latitude, so it should be compatable with this.

EddieO said...

Very useful addition. Lacks one key thing. The star rating for each establishment should be included on the *result list* page, in addt'n to where is already is, in each result detail.
Otherwise you have to click every link to see what people like.

lowlight said...

@salmonmoose

Adding Opera support may not be as simple as adding a user-agent string check, but it shouldn't be too difficult to add. It's html5, and while it may not have geolocation, this is just one of the many features that Google is leaving a lot of people out of for no reason.

Mobile Gmail is useless on anything but Webkit browsers, even when there are other browsers that technically can support all the features. It's just a matter of spending a bit of time to support them. Considering Opera Mobile and Mini are still more widely used than iPhone, and about 15X as used as Android (worldwide), I think it would be worth their effort.

Richard said...

@lowlight:

Unless something drastic has changed very, very recently, Opera Mini does not support HTML5 - Opera's servers may "translate" HTML5 for you into Opera Mini's goofy-ass, stripped down display tags for you, but no applications are going to work in that environment. I believe Opera on the desktop supports HTML5, but Opera Mini and desktop Opera don't share anything other than a brand name, at least as far as I've ever seen. (I believe the same to be true of Opera Mobile, although because of its significantly smaller install base, I don't suppose it even matters for the purposes of this discussion...)

sskoutas said...

would love to see this feature added into the Google iPhone App. That seems to be a logical place for it. Two clicks... one on the app, and another on "near me now." Beats launching Safari and typing in "google.com," doesn't it?

Dekuben said...

To get this to work in the UK I had to:

Go to Google.com
Click Local at the top of the page.

On a side note:

The exact same results seem to appear when I go to google.co.uk
click local and just type the business i'm looking for.

I.e. restaurants.

MSB said...

Palm Pre, please.

Steve said...

iPhone App please.

Randy Magruder said...

My G1 keeps saying "Location Unavailable" on the Google.com site, even though Google Maps is seeing my Location accurately via the GPS, and the setting in the browser says to enable location. Why?

lowlight said...

@Richard I am referring to Opera Mobile, not mini. Version 10 uses Presto 2.4, a fully HTML5 capable engine.

No, it doesn't have the massive userbase of iPhone/iTouch, but it's still significant enough for it to be stupid to leave out completely for no reason other than it's not "trendy".

Someone at Google is capable, since the Google Maps app for WinMo is at least as good as the iPhone (actually better since it can display a higher resolution). I just need to keep bringing it up, so the others take notice.

MSB said...

Update - Palm Pre

You can use this service, but you have to click on the "Local" tab.
(Oh, I also have the iPhone User Agent hack enabled - don't' know if this helps)

This is very, very cool.

Marty said...

No Palm love? It's pretty much the same browser...

Jamie said...

Just so that everyone knows there is another broswer option if you have a windows phone or the Nokia N900 (Maemo) or Nokia internet tablet.
I'm talking about Fennec which is the Mozilla project developing Firefox for mobile.
In my opinion I expect the three smartphone winners to be iPhone, Windows Mobile and Maemo. Symbian will be the OS of choice for feature phones when Nokia switches the Series 40 GUI to Symbian.
I think Palm has no future as an independent company. RIM is going to face massive competition plus many CIOs just see BES as an unnecessary expense and a single point of failure the others don't have.

Calle said...

Google Mobile Team: You really need to fix so that international users also can use the awesome additions you make.
1. First, whenever I use the search field on my iPhone (located in Sweden) I get desktop-view results.
2. If I go to google.se/m i get the mobile view. google.com/m get me the view you speak about.
3. When I update my location, and click "near me now", I get result as expected but whenever I click a result I end up on a Swedish general mobile site (not iPhone).

It's quite tiresome to have to add hl=en in the url to get correct result.

Any fix for this would be welcome...

Marco said...

Why would this not work on 1.6?? It is a webservice and 1.6 does show the location on google.com in the Browser.

scott said...

I just tried it and it works fairly well except for a flaw in their search algorithm. I live in a city with the with "Bar" in the name (it is mostly on an old ranch). If you search for local Bars, it returns a number of businesses that do not serve alcohol but have the word "bar" in their name returned including city hall. I hope the folks at Google work on cleaning up their relevance scores in this nice new service.

Glenn Gruber said...

When is this going to be available for Palm Pre as well?

salmonmoose said...

@lowlight

I don't know where they're more likely used, our website doesn't support mobile devices and we get more users on Android than we get using all versions of Opera put together.

When it comes to HTML5 Opera has fallen way behind Webkit and Gecko, coupled with it's low uptake, there's next to no point developing for it.

Critical to the gmail web-app the lack of local storage would be a large stumbling block.

For the US only people, this is just how Google does stuff, they launch applications, and then release translations as they happen. If you want the latest stuff, leave your language at English-US and your start-page as www.google.com

Tim said...

Getting pretty sick of the WebOS neglect. Come on, Google!

joules said...

What about blackberry???

Glenn Gruber said...

@joules, Blackberry is so 2000's :)

Get current. Android, iPhone and Palm are far ahead of the rest.

Nickname unavailable said...

Only works in the default browser on Droid (Android 2.0.1). Doesn't work with Dolphin Browser.

Dwzao said...

Google, please stop to force your customers to use Mobile Phone numbers on your GMail service with the excuse to combat spams and REENable all GMail accounts that you have disabled for this reason. That's not fair for a free EMail service.

Pradeep Sagathiya said...

Useful information

Mike said...

Dam there are a lot of haters out there.

Jonathan Trenn said...

How does a restaurant - or any other place for that matter - get a listing on this service? And how is Google letting restaurants etc. know about this?

Vince Outlaw said...

Where is the Android App / Widget / Shortcut to this feature?

Is it just me or is Near Me Now on the Android browser clunky, taking you all the way back to the Near Me Now link after viewing each entry via Explore Right Here?

I think you get your listing on here using the Google Local Business Center, right? http://www.google.com/local/add

Ken said...

Don't see it on the default Blackberry Browser...bummer!

Nil said...

Please include the following features:

Graphic Calculators; both Scientific and Financial

Global TV Tuner.....

scott said...

Would be nice if this was made available for all platforms.

See no reason not to.

For those that seem to think BlackBerry's are yesterdays news, grow up. ;-) to each his own.

Shekhar Sahu said...

How does it differ from google local search?

PKRao said...

This is very similar to the 'Around Me' application that have been using for quite sometime on my iPhone.. :-)

rohit said...

anti competitive anyone?

google using www.google.com to push its services instead of yelp, or others from maybe even potential MS :p

Matthew Heenan said...

cool

paul said...

Count me as another who would like to use location-based and voice search on Nokia N900.

sargas said...

@Nickname unavailable

Dolphin browser specifically removed this, see "Why I cannot get my location on the Google search as default?" on this. Hopefully Dolphin will someday use a newer version of webkit which supports HTML5 without gears

@Dave, @Marco :
The web browser included in Android versions before eclair does not support geolocation. Cyanogenmod does backport the eclair browser (with multitouch) to g1/mt3g, and there may be other roms which do likewise.

James B said...

This does actually work in Australia, as long as you're on the google.com website. It picked up my location in Melbourne fine, and showed me very local restaurants and cafes.