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As anticipated, Google+ is officially powering Google's local search.
David Prieto's profile photoMartin Oxby's profile photoKrisztian Panczel's profile photoDon Burke's profile photo
I was going to build this new Google/Local idea. However, they beat me to the patent. Check out my mocks I made a while back.
This is great! I always felt +Google should be doing more with it's local features. This will make life much easier for consumers searching for local businesses. I hope that soon menu's for restaurants and other similar features become available.
I mentioned in the comments on the article, but I thought would be worthwhile to mention here too.

The Places Pages are still loading fine and it seems as the two tools while using the same data are still separate products. Take for instance the fact that a business can be claimed on a Places Page and still unclaimed on Google+ Local.

My Local 5 Guys Burger and Fries ...

Places Page - Claimed
Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Google+ Local Page - "Is this your business?"

These services may completely merge at some point, but at the moment they are still separate from what I can tell.
I only hope with this that Google can do a better job of their local product this way than they have with the inconsistencies, auto-duplications and other annoyances that have plagued Google Places.

I understand why Google have taken this - as it effectively forces business (and their customers/clients) to use Google+ more. It's not in the spirit of how social should be done, but it makes business sense from their perspective.
I think it's a good thing...
So, here's the thing I don't get. It doesn't appear they've combined Google+ Pages with Google+ Local. This seems really odd. Why do businesses need to maintain both a "page" and a "local" entry? Is there a benefit I'm not seeing in keeping them separate?
+Don Burke apparently some pages are combined - +The Meatball Shop for example seems to have both a posts tab and an about tab, complete with reviews. Business owners probably just have to do something to merge both pages, although I'm not quite sure what.

Any ideas?
I don't see why they have to be separate at all. It's making business owners do more to maintain their Google Local presence, when one merged option could easily be created. I hate too much like a Google critic, but as usual we have to play the game we're given until enough people complain about the inefficiency of it all. I think Don raises a valid point here.
They are bringing it all together and finding ways to integrate. You Tube with Hangouts and now bringing in places into Google +. They seem so be getting the hang of integration... The Google + Pages and Google + Local remains a question though :)
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