Google announced a new, swooshier format for showing photos on Place Pages, its listings for businesses and landmarks. Photos are now displayed in a lightbox layered over the screen, with a simple slideshow navigation similar to Google Reader – Play and Fast Flip from Google Labs.

Google is not known for smooth design, but it seems to be trying harder to give users a pleasurable experience. “This simple and intuitive online album experience makes it easier to explore all the wonderful photographs of places all over the world,” the company wrote on its Lat Long blog.

Today Google rolled out a better design for browsing photos of landmarks and businesses from Google Maps or Place Pages.

Google Images got a similar makeover for the better this summer, introducing a new interface with search results tiled down a single page that can display up to 1,000 photos and a prettier way to enlarge any photo you want to see better in a lightbox displayed over the source page.

Google is making photo-viewing better, but that’s not all it’s done. Users can flip easily through high resolution photos that they can click on to get to relevant sites on the Web.

Users of Panoramio, Google’s photo-sharing site that emphasizes geo-tagging, or Google Places can upload and geo-tag photos. Google also pulls from around the Web for the photos it displays on Place Pages.

Google’s push for a better user experience comes as Microsoft presents well-designed products like Bing and Street Slide that directly compete with Google services, and as Apple continues to introduce more people to its religion of good design.

Which Google products do you think are well-designed?