Google has updated the Google Places API to bring a number of interesting additions that will provide developers with the tools to add more local information and context to their apps and creations.

Most notably, the Web giant has now added support for Google Reviews, which can now be shown at the foot of maps and text search, which allows users to find specific details within maps (as below), as is possible with Google Maps already.

The Google Geo Developers blog post provides more details on these two new features:

Google Reviews

By far the most popular request from developers since the day we launched has been access to the Google Reviews offered on Google+ Local. We’re therefore delighted to announce that the top 5 Google Reviews for a Place are now included in the response to a Place Details request. Each review is accompanied by additional information such as the scores given by the author, author details, and the date that the review was submitted.

Text Search

Text Search brings the flexible capabilities of the Google Maps search field to your application. Rather than requiring the user’s location to search around, Text Search interprets free text queries that can include both what the user is searching for, and where they are searching for it. For example, you can submit a search for “Pizza in New York”, or “Sushi near Sydney”. You can also bias queries to a particular area, so that even queries with no address component can be correctly interpreted.

Further information can be added with support for opening hours — which shows a retail outlet’s opening hours that week (were supported) within the information windows in the map. Users will also be able to retrieve up to 60 search results, up from 20, thanks to the introduction of paging.

The demo below shows how the newly supported features can be add greater context to searches. If I’m looking for somewhere to buy beer from my phone, for example, I’m getting far more information which is likely to provide me with a more useful experience.

googlemapsdemo 520x456 Developers get more context as Google Reviews, search and more is added to Google Places API

The search giant says that Google Places provides access to more than 95 million places worldwide, including businesses and landmarks, and its recent integration with Google+ demonstrated its keenness to grow user-led reviews and other information to help provide context.

Image via Shutterstock / Ingvar Bjork