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Google Takes a Bite Out of Zagat: Window Decals Offer Guests Alternative to Finding Reviews, Coupons & More

What if you could decide where to shop, eat or hang out, with a little help from local Google users? It might take you a while to ask them all, so to make it easier Google has launched a new effort to send window decals to over 100,000 local businesses in the U.S. that have been the most sought out and researched on and Google Maps. Dubbed "Favorite Places on Google," users can now start to find them in over 9,000 towns and cities, in all 50 states. Users can also explore a sample of the Favorite Places in 20 of the largest U.S. cities at Each window decal has a unique bar code, known as a QR code that can be scanned with any of hundreds of mobile devices, including iPhone, Android-powered phones, BlackBerry and more, to take users directly to that business's Place Page on their mobile phones. With this technology, customers can easily go up to a storefront and immediately find reviews, get a coupon if the business is offering one or star a business as a place you want to remember for the future. Soon, customers will be able to leave a review on the mobile page as well.

To scan the codes, customers need a phone with a camera and an app that can read QR codes. For Android-powered devices, including the Droid by Motorola, Google recommend using the free Barcode Scanner app. For iPhone, Google have found the $1.99 QuickMark app to work best, and they are partnering with QuickMark to offer the app for free for the first 40,000 downloads. For other devices, Google recommends that users search for "QR reader" in their app marketplace, if it has one, or search for the model of their phone and [qr reader] on Google. BeeTagg and NeoReader are two other apps that they have found to work well with the decals.

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