You might usually pull up Google Maps to find the quickest way home, or navigate your way around a new neighborhood, but the search giant is hoping to expand the way you use its app.
There’s a new feature in Google Maps – a community feed. It’s similar to the news feed on your Facebook or Instagram account, except it’s designed to let you know what’s happening in your area, with information contributed by locals.
It includes recommendations of local spots, reviews from Google’s Local Guides, and photos of favorite dishes. When you follow your local businesses on Maps, you’ll now get updates directly from them, such as new take-away and delivery options.
You’ll find the new community feed in the ‘Explore’ tab of Google Maps, and you can tailor it to your interests. If you’ve followed a few vegetarian restaurants, or marked an interest in Italian food, then Maps will show you more of these recommendations.
You’ll be able to use the new feature for more than just your local area, though. If you’re looking for something new, you’ll be able to move around the map and find contributed information for just about anywhere in the world – at least, that is what Google has set out to do.
Much of this information was already available on Google Maps one way or another, but certain aspects became particularly helpful in recent months – businesses were able to post updates on their new opening hours, or let customers know that they were moving operations online.
But that was only available if you looked up that specific business’ profile – now, it can appear all in one place, and one that can be specifically curated to you.
In a statement on its blog, a spokesperson for Google said that in early testing of the new feature, “we saw that posts from merchants are seen two times more than before the feed existed”.
The new feature is in the process of rolling out to all phones with iOS or Android.