Early this year, a rumor circulated that Google was exploring a concept called Google Store Views - basically a version of Street View that would photograph the interiors of businesses. Now, pictures that were taken as part of a pilot program can be viewed on some companies' Place pages.
What first sounded like a silly idea is starting to take shape as a useful service, too. A post on the LatLong Blog explained, "For example, if you're looking for the perfect restaurant to make a good impression on a first date, the high-quality interior photos might help you decide if the ambiance and atmosphere of a particular place are right for the occasion you're planning."
And so far, Google does seem to be targeting small, unique businesses, not omnipresent outfits like McDonald's or Walmart where pictures would be redundant.
So here's a little more info about the program's rollout: pictures have been taken in around 30 cities, and they should become visible online over the next few weeks. Also, the blog post stated, "We're continuing to take photos at more business locations, and urge others to let us know if you'd like us to visit you as well."
Interestingly, Google isn't asking for anything in return, and hasn't tied the photos into any sort of advertising opportunity just yet.