Google updates Places, offers free photoshoot by Seth Weintraub @FortuneMagazine April 22, 2010, 5:55 PM EST E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons To help promote its recently rebranded Places service, Google is offering businesses in larger cities in the U.S., Japan and Australia a visit by a photographer. Formerly known as Google Local Business, Places was rebranded this week and its service expanded. from google.com The new features to Places include (from Google): Service areas: If you travel to serve customers – a photographer, plumber, or piano tuner, for example – you can now show which geographic areas you serve. And if you run a business without a storefront or office location, you can now make your address private. This helps the millions of home-based and service businesses be found by customers in their service areas. A new, simple way to advertise: For just $25 per month, businesses in select cities can make their listings stand out on Google.com and Google Maps with Tags. As of today, we’re rolling out Tags to three new cities — Austin, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. — in addition to ongoing availability in Houston and San Jose, CA. In the coming weeks we’ll also be introducing Tags in Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Boulder, and San Francisco. Business photo shoots: In addition to uploading your own photos, businesses in select cities can now request a free photo shoot of the interior of their business which we’ll use to supplement existing photos of businesses on Place Pages. We’ve been experimenting with this over the past few months, and now have created a site for businesses to learn more and express their interest in participating. Customized QR codes: From the dashboard page of Google Places, businesses in the U.S. can download a QR code that’s unique to their business. QR codes can be placed on business cards or other marketing materials, and customers can scan them with certain smartphones to be taken directly to the mobile version of the Place Page for that business. Favorite Places: We’re doing a second round of our Favorite Places program, and are mailing window decals to 50,000 additional businesses around the US. These decals include a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to directly view the mobile Place Page for the business to learn more about their great offerings. To help celebrate/promote the event, Google is sending its photographers around to major cities to take panoramic snapshots of storefronts. To see if there are photographers are in your area, check here and if so, apply here.