Sunday, April 12, 2009

Google gets really local

The search engine now helps you find that restaurant with uncanny accuracy


Ever wondered how you can search for the most esoteric information in the world on Google.com and find thousands of results with pictures? But try finding the address of the nearest barbershop and the experience is drastically different. Indeed, an entire family of local search engines and directories such as www.asklaila.com and www.justdial.com have sprouted up to help you do just that—locate products and services in your immediate vicinity with contact details and sometimes even directions.



Google map

But if you like to do all your searching in just one location, then we have good news. Google has just announce the global roll-out of a map enabled local search function within the traditional Google search interface. Type in the word “groceries” into a search engine and chances are that among the first few results is a small map of the location you are in with grocery stores marked out in typical Google Maps fashion.

It is by no means a 100% accurate depiction of the number or location of those stores. That’s because is simply using the IP (Internet protocol) address of your computer to make an approximation of where in the world you are. So it might know you are in Mumbai, but it definitely won’t know you are in Dosti Acres in Wadala East. But as a quick and dirty first-cut search the service is excellent. Clicking on the link further takes you a Google Maps site where you can browse through even more results. Some searches for restaurants and cinemas come with links to reviews, photos and detailed contacts.

And all this without using any complicated search strings or changing advanced settings. So before making plans this long Easter weekend give Google a whirl and see what it throws up.
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