There are a lot of goodies in the newest version of Google Maps, which just started rolling out to devices last week. However, some users are getting a bonus that didn't show up in the changelog. We've been able to get a few confirmations of a new Explore Nearby tool in Maps that offers much more fine-grained control of location-based suggestions.
Anyone can access the current version of the Nearby feature in Maps by tapping on "Explore Nearby" when in the search interface. This lets you pick a type of establishment (food, drinks, etc.) and get a list of possibilities. The updated Explore Nearby gets its own button on the bottom right of the map screen. You can still pick from various categories, but it's split up into more focused groups and includes points of interest now. There's also a drop-down to select the time of day for more appropriate suggestions. Unless you want to hit a bar in the early afternoon. I'm not one to judge.
Since we were able to find a few people with this new feature, it's definitely out of internal dogfooding at Mountain View. It might look a bit different by the time the new version makes its way out to everyone, but Explore Nearby is definitely changing. There may also be some hints of future location features in the teardown we did on Maps v8.2.
[Google+, Thanks, Kody Scalzi]