Location-based services are 2010's hot ticket item. As hyped as 'real-time search' was in 2009, all things 'local' will be the focus this year by search companies like Google and the social networks of Facebook and Twitter. Optimized search suggestions using one's location was announced by Google on January 14.
Typing a query into the search box on a mobile phone can often be time-consuming and tedious. According to Google's official blog, "for this reason, relevant search suggestions that match your intended query (by location)can meaningfully reduce the time and effort it takes to submit a search." Now, Google will offer suggestions based on the phone's current or last location, making the suggestions more relevant.
If you have an iPhone or Android powered device, go to Google.com on your phone's browser and start typing a query to see the new location-optimized suggestions. Make sure you have turned on "Save recent locations" and "Allow use of device location" under the Settings link on the Google.com home page. (note: you may have to refresh Google.com on your smartphone browser to see the optimized suggestions).
For example, when users in the Boston area start typing "Muse", suggestions such as "museum of science Boston" and "museum of fine arts Boston" are provided because people near Boston frequently look for these very popular museums. On the other hand, those in San Francisco who conduct the same search will see museums that are in their metropolitan area. By using the device's current or most recent location, Google is able to offer even better, more useful suggestions than ever before.
However, coming off of their recent disputes with the Chinese government, I doubt you will see this feature available in Bejing (just in case you were wondering).
Currently this 'location' option doesn't exist on desktop searches. While other location-based social networks like Yelp and Foursquare could probably assist you similarly, Google's local mobile search differs from LBS services in that it is updated in real-time and it is a Web app so it can work across several devices ( iPhone and Android being the first).
In addition to local mobile search, Google's "Near Me Now" feature, is another location-search option that is a fast and easy way to find out more about a specific venue in your immediate vicinity, whether you're standing in front of it or it's a short walk away.
However with innovation comes a price tag. Now that Google knows your location, you can expect their ad platform to start kicking in and targeting you with local ads for restaurants, stores and such. They're not there yet, so report back when you see their first ad pop up on your mobile browser...and I'll do the same!