Along with the new, more colorful search interface, Google is testing a more prominent location feature to further refine results on some queries. I noticed it only today, although the new Google search is my default since about a month ago. Maybe this means it’s getting closer to be released to the general public. After all, it’s been almost six months since the first mention of the changes! I checked how Google search looks in several browsers, but the new interface is present only in Google Chrome and on the international site, probably because I opted for an experiment a while back.
It is probably designed for mobile devices, since it can auto-detect the location based on IP address or WiFi networks, but you can also manually choose your location using the drop-down options. Enabling it triggers a big One Box with local businesses matching the query in the third or forth position on the page. The integration with the search filters in the left sidebar is far from perfect unfortunately; for example switching to ‘Maps’ doesn’t remember the city I selected, even though it’s also my default location in Maps.
The location option was introduced earlier in the Search Options panel, but this placement under the search box is much more visible and makes it more likely that users will discover the feature. Right now there aren't many queries that have localized results in my area. As you can see above, Google shows the One Box when searching ‘KFC’, but not for ‘McDonalds’. On the other hand, localization is not suited for every query and with this implementation it doesn’t interfere when it has nothing to show.