Google announced via a Tweet that their new maps app has officially been released to the public.  There is no need for an email update to get the app any longer, and it is available on both Android and iOS devices.   The updated maps app will offer many great opportunities for marketers, especially those who are representing local businesses.

The app gathers data from Google+ profiles and Zagat, both Google owned properties, to populate it with millions of local businesses and destinations.  Marketers can create Google+ marketing campaigns to improve on these features and provide more exposure to their business to the millions of people who will be using the new maps app.

The app includes a variety of new features including a search bar which allows users to search for more than just businesses and places.  Users can pull up directions for traveling by car, bike, walking and other information.  It also includes real-time traffic information.  When people search for something like “Italian Restaurant, New York USA” for example it will display those results directly on the map rather than in a list to the left of the map.

Clicking or tapping on one of those locations will pull up an info card which displays things like business hours, contact information and much more.  When properly filled out by the business owner or another marketer, the info card can contain pictures, website address, reviews and menu information as well.  This gives marketers significantly more flexibility in what they display to potential customers.

There is also a unique version of the app for users of iPads with some additional features and optimizations.  This should result in a much better user experience than previous versions where the same version for phones and tablets was used.

Of course, the app also includes common mapping features like street view, and the ability to view locations from different angles.  Overall this app looks like a significant improvement from previous versions, and it will likely be used by millions of mobile users which makes this a very attractive marketing opportunity.

What's your opinion?