Note: Google recently changed their google local page and this link doesn’t work anymore. The local page exists but seems to be based on the type of query you have now (which sucks). Working on a new solution.

Props to google for their improvements on google mobile. Now it saves your location, which makes life a heck of a lot easier to find “pizza” in your neighborhood, or “ice cream” near work.

I’ve been meaning to post my google mobile hack for a while which does the same thing, but it’s still useful for its instant directions feature. Note: this is for users who don’t have the google local program (my phone doesn’t support it), but do have internet access. You’ll also need to know how to type in characters like + on your phone.

First, write down your address, and define it in your head as [your address]. Like, [your address] = 123 main street, chicago il 60626.
Next, any place there’s a space, replace it with a +, and definte it in your head as [your+address]. Like, [your+address] = 123+main+street,+chicago+il+60626.

Finally, bookmark this address in your phone, replacing [your+address]:
http://www.google.com/m?output=xhtml&site=local&q=&near=[your+address]&daddr=&saddr=[your+address]

For instance:
http://www.google.com/m?output=xhtml&site=local&q=&near=123+main+street,
+chicago+il+60626&daddr=&saddr=123+main+street,+chicago+il+60626

What this does:
google localIt gives you a page with two forms: A driving directions form with your start address already filled out, and a “find businesses near” form with your location already filled out. It’s super handy for the driving directions, because you just type in a destination address and hit submit. And it’s even handier for finding local businesses, because you can just type in a business name or category (like cafe) and it gives you a list of businesses ordered by proximity. The call link will actually call the business (most phones support this), and if you click on a business and then click on driving directions it will automatically give you directions to the destination because you already filled out your starting address.

How’d I do this? I figured out that this was the most useful page on google and bookmarked it, and then hacked the URL to always use my address. m?output=xhtml gives it in a format for your phone. site=local gives you the nice driving directions / what/where forms. q= is your query, I leave it blank so that it’s not always filled in. near= what you’re searching in, i.e. your address. daddr= is the destination address, which I leave blank as well. saddr is your start address, which is also filled in with your address. The &s in a URL just delimiate between different variables. And the +s just encode spaces into URLs.

I have this bookmark in my “goto” menu on my phone, so all I have to do is hit goto, up, send and I’m on this page for instant directions or business searches. I’ll use google’s main mobile page for business searches now that they save locations, but this is still useful for quick access.

On monday, my car broke down in a parking lot. I was able to call AAA, find a ford dealer near me, call the ford dealer to see if they’re open, and get directions to the ford dealer for the tow truck driver very quickly using this method. (I also called and emailed my friends about my change in plans. I love my phone and google!)