When Google launched the Google Local Business Center, it was Google Favorite Places that guided mobile users with their unique bar codes, QR codes. I remember checking out Berkeley as seen below.
The todays announcement of Google Places introduces local search and map listings, realtime updates, custom QR codes and coupons. Business owners could even get photo shoots for businesses.
With the new model, Google compete with the likes of Twitter, FourSquare and facebook that offers location based and local information.
Business' could buy tags, for $25 a month that will direct users who search by the tag, once found they will be able to print out QR codes or coupons and find the way through Google Maps.
Again local searches seems to be focusing on quick searches. Do it to find something in a hurry and do it again if necessary. May be Google will improve it, like it did so far with the Google Places.
Official Google Blog: Introducing Google Places Sphere: Related Content