Google Places iPhone App Now Available

Google Places with Hotpot (s goog) is now available as a free download from the iOS App Store (s aapl) (opens iTunes). The Yelp competitor from the search giant provides location-based recommendations for restaurants, bars, attractions and other points of interest. It’s been available for Android since July 26, 2010.

The app lets you find, rate and review businesses and other points of interest in your immediate vicinity. It provides real-time distance information relative to your current position, lets you see the location in Google Maps, call or find directions. You can add your own custom searches for specific businesses, and those searches will be saved for later use on the app’s home screen. You can even reorder and delete existing searches and the ones you create.

It’s a handy little app, and one that benefits from Google’s extensive search database. I’ll probably continue using Yelp for restaurant recommendations for the time being, since it seems to have a more mature database of reviews. Google is clearly keen to grow in that regard, since the app asks you constantly to rate nearby locations via a dialog bar at the bottom of the app’s home screen.

Google Places is at its best when paired with Google’s free turn-by-turn GPS navigation app, which exists on Android but has yet to make an appearance on the iPhone platform. If Google navigation ever does come, either via an update to the built-in Maps app or on its own, I wouldn’t bet on Yelp’s chances of coming out on top in the location-based recommendations game.

Yelp or Google Places: Which app gets pride of place on your iPhone’s home screen? Or maybe you’re more into Gowalla or Foursquare? Let us know in the comments.