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According to a report circulating the web, Google is officially retiring its Google+ Local application for iOS as of August 7. However, as far as we can tell, the app has already been removed from Apple’s iTunes App Store, and links pointing to the app, when clicked, provide the message that “the item you’ve requested is not currently available in the U.S. store.”

The report being cited by a number of publications is based on 9to5Mac’s blog post, which refers to an email sent in by a tipster. We’ve also obtained a copy of the email, as well, forwarded to us by Mark Traphagen who had posted about the app’s closure on Google+. (See full email below).

In the email, Google explains that the Google+ Local app on iOS will be retired on August 7, as the updated version of the Google Maps app can now offer a number of the functions the Local app once provided, including the ability to search by categories of places, read place information, reviews, pricing, and addresses, plus the ability to rate, review and share the places you’ve been to and discover.

In addition, the email says that after August 7, users would no longer be able to access the Google+ Local app on their iOS device, but any reviews and ratings created would be available on both their Google+ profile and within the Google Maps app for iOS.

However, the actual link to the app from a Google Search result or other webpage is currently broken. In addition, a search inside the iOS App Store for all Google apps shows that the app is no longer available there. (Though we did spot what appears to be a beta test of something called Google Coordinate. Oops, that’s an enterprise product. We knew that.)

9to5Mac’s blog post uses an App Store affiliate link to point to the Google+ Local app, and this is now redirecting users who click to the Google Maps iOS application instead.

We’ve reached out to Google to confirm the situation, but it seems pretty apparent, as is. Google+ Local for iOS is no more, even though it’s not yet August 7. (Update: Google confirms the app is being retired.)

Though much of the functionality has now made it over to Google Maps, the Local app was useful for its singular focus, which made it an easy-access tool for local listings. Maps is a more robust, feature-rich application, which doesn’t always work best when you’re in need of speed. But the Local app hadn’t been getting much attention in recent weeks, leading to several negative App Store reviews where users complained. One even said the project “has been put on the back burner” and Google should “just get rid of it.”

And so it seems Google did.

Under the Larry Page era at Google, the company has been busy streamlining its product lineup and areas of development, with a heavy emphasis on its social platform, Google+. Already, Google+ had absorbed Local on the web, but the Google+ iOS app doesn’t yet contain “Local” as an option in the sidebar, which is why the email likely pointed users to the Google Maps flagship application instead of both it and the Google+ app.

Not only was Google+ Local a duplicate of functionality that is better served elsewhere, the app itself was struggling to gain adoption. The app had less than a 1 percent reach across U.S. iPhone users, reports Onavo Insights. In June, less than 0.75 percent of U.S. iPhone users opened the app at least once, compared with nearly 35 percent who opened Google Maps.

Below, the full email below Google sent Google+ Local users:

You’ve been dreaming of this day your entire life. You and your one true love will be joining your eternal souls in the resplendent, holy matrimony of… a Google+ hangout. Scenes like this used to be pretty rare (and usually involved deployed military members), but as The New York Times points out, proxy weddings via Internet have become increasingly common—and increasingly controversial with the questions of immigrant marriage fraud and legitimate consent at the forefront.

Online marriages are, for now, entirely legal, nor are they trailblazers by any means—we even have documentation of marriages via telegram. But although technological advancements now allow us to at least be certain that both parties even exist, Michigan State University College of Law professor Adam Candeub told The New York Times:

Part of the reason for having the two people come and appear before a priest or a judge is to make sure it is a freely chosen thing. There are some problems with willy-nilly allowing anyone around the world to marry.

So while some of these web-based marriages act as a means of circumventing immigration laws and nothing more, there’s also a more sinister issue that can arise: human trafficking. Proxy marriages allow human traffickers a quick, and more importantly legal way of bringing women and children into another country where they’ll be forced into sex work.

And that’s not to say video chat matrimony is all bad; plenty of perfectly legitimate marriages occur over web. But if we want to keep our Skype ceremonies around for those in need, there are going to need to be some major regulation overhauls. You can read about more specific cases in the full New York Times piece. [The New York Times]

Image: Shuttershock/hartphotography