Jun 3rd, 2009

For those unfamiliar with Google 20% time, Google gives its engineers one day each week (1 out of 5 = 20%) to work on personal projects that, while being developed for the company, provide them an outlet to program their passion. As described on the Google Jobs page:

We offer our engineers “20-percent time” so that they’re free to work on what they’re really passionate about. Google Suggest, AdSense for Content and Orkut are among the many products of this perk.

A recent example of this is Sky Map – which I absolutely love. They can also be used to fix small bugs as was the case in 2006 when Alex added a feature to Google Reader. The most recent success story of Google 20% time is an Android Application called Places Directory.


The application makes finding things near you MUCH easier by eliminating the process of “searching” and instead organizes information in a directory fashion. Simply select a category to browse and it will show you places in that category closest to your current location.

This is a GREAT application – but it isn’t the first of its type. There are a LOT of applications that show you points of interest close to you, grouped by category. An app called WHERE comes mind, but there are MANY apps like this on the market.

But this might be the best. The directory browses in an identical fashion to Android Market – and that is a GREAT thing in terms of functionality. When selecting a location you can easily:

  • Dial them
  • Map them
  • Get directions
  • Get web info
  • Share via SMS/Email
  • Add to contacts

Some businesses/locations also have a Gallery associated with them where you can view pictures. It seems like only main attractions and entertainment sources have pictures associated. Fortunately or unfortunately – depending on how you view it – the first business I could find with a gallery was for an escort service and there were 2 pictures in the gallery, both of meagerly dressed women.

I found this in the “attractions” category” – go figure!

All-in-all this is an AMAZING application if you ask me. I’ve rated it 5 stars in Android Market and put it on my desktop to be used as my primary application for locating whatever nearby I might need. If I hit any snags I’ll let you know, but so far this application looks pretty flawless.

Two quick things that would be awesome:

  • Add ability to submit reviews. Perhaps only allow user to submit the review if their GPS location indicates they are currently at the location they are reviewing!
  • Add ability to add gallery images… although I can see this getting raunchy, inappropriate and difficult to keep clean. Hmmmm.

Do you concur?