Google Maps was the only specialized search engine from Google's sidebar that didn't have a consistent interface for search results. When you clicked on "Maps" in the sidebar, you were sent to Google Maps, a service that has a completely different interface.
Google experiments with adding a "Places" option to the menu. The main difference is that local search results are displayed inside the regular Google search interface and users no longer have to visit Google Maps
In 2005, Google merged two distinct services: Google Maps and Google Local. "Google announced the official launch of Google Local, merging the technologies behind Google Local and Google Maps. No longer in beta in the U.S. and Canada, users can visit http://maps.google.com/maps to find local search and mapping information in one place," informed Google at that time. Google Local was renamed as Google Maps after a few months. Since then, Google launched a mobile interface for local search results, a large OneBox for local results, place pages for businesses and now a separate desktop interface for local search. Back to the roots.
Do some holiday (window) shopping with Google Maps
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