Google is placing a great deal of emphasis on check-in services, with regards to Google Places. This could mean some interesting things for businesses.
"We have been delighted with the enthusiasm we have seen for the Places API, and the innovative ways in which developers would like to use it," says Google Maps API Product Manager Thor Mitchell. "We have seen applications that offer check-in to places and need to identify an individual place at which a user is currently located, applications looking to show a user Places around them, and applications looking to offer a search and browse experience for Places similar to that offered on Google Maps."
"We are going to focus initially on check-in applications," says Mitchell. "These are the applications that we feel the API currently caters to well, and we are excited to work with developers building these applications to understand their requirements, and ensure that we are offering them the best possible experience."
Google says it has been reaching out to developers who have expressed interest in building check-in apps using the Places API. This includes developers working on client apps for the Buzz API.
Check-in services are gaining a lot of attention, and are creating new and interesting opportunities for brick and mortar businesses that just weren't available before. Combine that with the power of Google Maps and Google's increasingly heavy push of Google Places, and this has the potential to be very powerful. With Google's APIs, the consumers are going to have many more access points, particularly from their mobile devices.
It would also not be surprising if this was heavily tied to that "Google Me" project that has been speculated on so heavily in recent weeks.
Earlier this week, Google updated its Maps for Mobile on Android devices, making a Places icon available. This essentially turns Places into its own app for all intents and purposes.