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Google launches local search for mobile

The "Near me now" option is now available for Android and iPhone users who have opted to share their locations.

Google's regular iPhone/Android search vs. its Near Me Now option.

The geo craze has come to Google search: Open up a Google.com window in the browser of an iPhone or Android cell phone and you'll now have the option to click a "Near me now" option to bring up search results close to your immediate location.

"First, we wanted to make it fast and easy to find out more about a place in your immediate vicinity, whether you're standing right in front of a business or if it's just a short walk away," a post on the Google Mobile blog Thursday read. "Second, we wanted to make searching for popular categories of nearby places really simple. Imagine that you emerge from the subway station and you want to grab a coffee, but you don't see a coffee shop around you. You can simply search for all nearby coffee shops by using 'Near me now.'"

"Near me now" was first demonstrated last month at a Google search event--you know, the one where "Google Goggles" first debuted into our casual vernacular.

Let's look at some of the backstory here. Fewer than two weeks after the original demo of the local mobile search app, word surfaced that Google was close to acquiring Yelp, a local business reviews powerhouse, for as much as $750 million. Days later, the original source of the news backtracked and said that Yelp had bailed on the deal.

What Yelp would've brought Google was an active community of reviewers, as well as a brand name in local business search that could potentially woo choice advertisers. Google, after all, already has a wealth of its own local information at hand, not to mention the ability to search the Web like no one else. Will disoriented iPhone and Android users now open up a Google window instead of their Yelp apps when hunting for the nearest pizza at 2 AM? Google sure hopes so.