Earlier today I was looking for articles on a topic that were published last summer. So I headed for the "Show options" toggle and noticed a whole slew of geographic options that were new to me, including "nearby" and others, too. Apparently it all depends on what "default location" Google has recorded for your computer.
Then later I saw this Google Blog post [googleblog.blogspot.com] announcing the change - OK, it is something new.
I just tried another search right now and I'm not getting those options, at least for now, so YMMV.
This will certainly be useful for end users, but it may have some implications for SEOs concerned with Local Search, too. It depends on how they figure out what "nearby" means - for example, if the words "San Francisco", "Marin" and "wine country" are all correlated in Google's database, that could help expand the reach of a website that doesn't use all those keywords.
Another change I see in recent days is a COUNTRY name being mentioned in green text in Google SERPs. It appears after the URL, and before the link to the cache. It appears on only a very small number of URLs, and only for a very small number of searches.