But is it a Yelp killer?

First, some truth-telling: Google Maps is the killer app on the Android platform. In one free app, you can see your current location via numerous overlays (satellite, roads, traffic, street view), then enter a destination address, and click “Navigate.” Your phone is instantly transformed into an Internet-linked GPS navigation system, complete with voice guidance and turn-by-turn directions. Mount your DROID on your dashboard and you have the best GPS receiver on the market at your disposal. (Add a hands-free, Bluetooth microphone to the mix, and you can talk on the phone and navigate simultaneously without missing a beat.)

After downloading the latest Google Maps update from the Market, you’ll notice a new icon nestled in your app listings – “Places.”

The new app is tightly integrated into Google Maps, so resist the urge to be confused. (Many early reviewers were thrown for a loop with this change.)

Opening “Places,” you’ll immediately get the gist of what it offers. First, it locks your exact position using GPS. Next, it offers you seven large icons: “Restaurants,” “Coffee,” “Bars,” “Hotels,” “Attractions,” “ATMs,” and “Gas Stations.” Clicking “Add” allows you to customize this home screen to add additional destination types; a search bar at the top invites you to “Find Places.”

Selecting any of these options gives you instant results on what’s nearby. Easily see each destination on a map, place a call to the location, get detailed directions, and see the business via “Street View.” In one fell swoop, Places takes its place as the most robust, detail-rich app for learning all you ever wanted to know about local destinations near your exact location. So the next time you’re heading out the door for a business trip or a night on the town with your friends or significant other, you’ll never be without something to do or a place to go.

Thanks, Google. Places is a welcome addition to the insanely great Google Maps family of functionality.

And yes, folks, it’s a Yelp killer. For me, anyway.