Explore the world with updated apps for iPhone: Check in with Latitude and use Places in 30 languages

We’re happy to announce updates for two iPhone apps that help you connect the people you care about with the places you love: Google Latitude with check-ins and Google Places in 30 languages.

Check in with Google Latitude for iPhone
After adding check-ins to Google Latitude for Android-powered devices, we’re happy to announce that you can now start checking in at places with the updated Latitude app for iPhone.

With Google Latitude, you can see where your Latitude friends are on a map and choose to continuously share where you are. Now, you can also choose to check in at specific places, such as your favorite restaurant or a park, to add more context to your location. You’ll be able to not only let friends know that you’re just around the corner but also let them know the actual coffee shop that you’re at in case they want to join you. If Latitude is set to continuously update your location, you’ll also be automatically checked out when you leave. This way, friends aren’t left guessing if you’re still there or not before heading over to join you for a latte.

Tap the “Check in” button to start checking in at nearby places. Keep checking in every time you visit your favorite places to start gaining special status there. You’ll not only progress to become a Regular, VIP, and then Guru at your favorite places, but if you’re near Austin, Texas, gaining status lets you unlock check-in offers at over 60 places.

Just like with sharing your location, you can control your Latitude check-in privacy. Checking in is 100% opt-in, and you can choose to share any check-in with your friends on Latitude, publicly on the web and your Google profile, or just yourself.

To start checking in with Latitude on your iPhone, update the Latitude app from the App Store. The app requires iOS 4 and above, and it’s available for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, and iPod touch (3rd/4th generation). However, background location updating is only available on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPad 3G.

Google Places in 30 languages
Best ever! Me gusta! Mi piace! Ich liebe es! Wherever you are and whatever language you speak, we want to give you the best personalized place recommendations when you use Google Places with Hotpot. Update the Google Places app from the App Store to rate on the go and get personalized recommendations for places in 30 languages.

You’ll also have one more way to personalize your experience: saved places. Sign in with your Google Account using the info icon in the top left corner. Then, tap the new “Saved” icon on the app’s main screen to see all the places that you’ve saved or starred from the app,google.com/hotpot or maps.google.com.

Updates will appear in the App Store in supported countries throughout today. Get the latest version of Google Places from the App Store and start discovering great new places wherever you are!

Click-to-call emergency information

In November 2010, we began displaying relevant emergency phone numbers at the top of the results page for searches around poison control, suicide and other common emergencies in 14 countries. Today, we are making it even easier for you to quickly reach the help you may need by adding click-to-call capabilities for all of these emergency information search results.

We piggybacked on the way that our mobile ads team enabled click-to-call phone numbers in local ads on mobile devices. This capability enables businesses to make it even easier for customers to reach them when those customers search on Internet-enabled mobile devices. The functionality seemed ideal for the emergency information feature.

Previously, mobile users in one of these countries who conducted searches around poison control, suicide and common emergency numbers received a result showing the relevant emergency phone number.

People on mobile will now get the same result, but the phone number will be a link that allows you to dial the number instantly, just by clicking the link.

Now, the poison control result in Spain is click-to-call on a mobile phone

We hope this addition is a small step that helps connect people with crucial information that they need immediately.

Google Places Dashboard: QR Code MIA, Good riddance!

The printable QR Code that directed folks to your Places Page that Google offered up in the Places Dashboard went missing last week. A number of posters have turned up in the forums asking where it went, wondering how to print out the QR Code for their Places Page and lamenting its absence.  Google has not yet made a public announcement whether the feature has been pulled or is just missing as a result of another bug.

My response to the posters: GOOD RIDDANCE!

While the availability of the QR Code in the Places Page raised the visibility of the idea of the QR Code for millions of SMBs that otherwise would not have thought about them, Google’s self serving implementation was never one that was in the best interest of the business owner.

It is incredibly easy to create and print your own QR Code that can be used in a range of environments that better meet the needs of business. For example this site CreateQRcode.appspot.com uses Google’s QR code API to allow a user to embed any URL in the code and print at a range of different sizes. It’s as simple as deciding which web page should be referenced in which campaign and pasting the URL in. The QR Code graphic is then generated in a choice of different sizes.

QR Codes could be added to newspaper ads, yellow page ads, billboards, business cards, TV commercials and signage. They are a useful way to encourage online engagement from the offline world. One suggestion that I have been making of late to clients with heavy foot traffic is to use the code to drive mobile shoppers directly to the Google mobile rating/review entry screen so as to facilitate the process….. here is the “recipe:

Take Google’s incredibly onerous URL for your Places Page:




Shorten it to its minimum content:


Add the following snippet to the end of the URL to send the user directly to the review window:


This creates the following URL:


Enter the above URL in the QR Code Generator, print and post near your exit with a request for a review. When scanned with any of the QR Code readers available on Android or the iPhone it will direct the users to Google’s Hotpot style, simplified mobile review environment:

While the above review solution still takes a user to your Google Places Page, it does so in a way that is useful to you and makes the customer’s life easier. Not only does it greatly facilitate the process of leaving a review in an engaging way, it does so while the experience is fresh for the consumer.

I would love to hear how your clients have used QR Codes and how well they worked.

Related posts:

  1. Google Maps and the QR Code – Why Use Google’s?
  2. Google Places Upgrades Dashboard Analytics – Is Google Adding a Reservation System?
  3. Google Places Review Bugs on the Mend