"Previously we only showed local listings at the top of the results page, and since this was prime real estate, we would not display the listings if we were not certain that you were looking for a local business. Within the Universal search framework, we are now able to more smartly handle ambiguous queries. For example, for the query [san francisco bar] we can now satisfy users who are looking for the website of the Bar Association of San Francisco as well as those looking for a local place to get a drink.
Additionally, when you do click through to see more local business results from Universal search, you will see a new "Text View" that highlights information such as photos, reviews, and restaurant menus to help you get an impression of the businesses before you visit. You can of course switch over to the familiar "Map View" if you want to explore the neighbourhood."
Universal search was launched during the Searchology Press Conference.