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This new Google Maps feature may completely change how you use the app

Published Dec 2nd, 2020 6:43PM EST
Image: Kyodo/Newscom/The Mega Agency

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  • Google Maps has launched a new Facebook-style news feed within the app, incorporating recommendations and suggestions from Maps users.
  • The feed builds on other tools Google has added to Maps this year that help people learn more about the places they want to go to, which they can then use Google Maps to help them actually navigate to.
  • 2020 is the 15th anniversary of Google Maps.

One of the things I’ve been fascinated to watch over the past year or more, in a way that certainly pre-dates the coronavirus pandemic, is the extent to which Google has woken up to all the latent potential inside one of its least-sexy apps, but one which is almost as utilitarian and relied upon as the company’s signature search app. I’m talking, of course, about Google Maps, which celebrated its 15th anniversary earlier this year by rolling out a slew of new updates to the app including more detailed info about your commute (well, back when we weren’t all mostly stuck at home, although this is still useful for things like quick grocery runs even during the pandemic era), as well as “Explore.” That’s a new tab you can hit to learn more granular detail about any of the millions of places that are findable via the app, and then you can then use Maps to learn how to get there after learning more about where your place is and what’s around it.

Once the coronavirus pandemic struck, Google Maps got even more useful still, thanks to things like the addition of a COVID-19 layer on top of the map. It means you can now use Maps to get a look at the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people for the area of the map you’re looking at, and you can also see a label that indicates whether the cases are trending up or down. And now, Google has just added yet another useful layer to Maps, to make finding something about the place you’re trying to get to even easier.

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In a Google company blog post

, Google Maps product manager Capella Yee explained that every day within the Google Maps community, people submit more than 20 million contributions — which includes peoples’ recommendations for their favorite spots, updates to business services, reviews and ratings, photos, updated addresses and more.

“Now,” Yee writes, “we’re making it easier to find updates and recommendations from trusted local sources with a new community feed in the Explore tab of Google Maps. The feed shows you the latest reviews, photos and posts added to Google Maps by local experts and people you follow as well as food and drink merchants, and articles from publishers like The Infatuation.”

This new Facebook-style news feed within Maps will allow users to pan and zoom around a map to find more localized information from users for almost anywhere in the world.

“The community feed brings together helpful local information and tailors it to your selected interests,” Yee continues. “For example, if you’ve marked an interest in healthy food or Greek cuisine in your Google Maps food and drink preferences, you’ll see more recommendations, photos and business posts for that type of dining.”

This is also a way for businesses to get more of their posts and information seen by users within Maps — such as, for example, whether a business is running a limited-time special or has opened up outdoor seating. Google says this update has started rolling out globally for Android and iOS users, so you should be able to enjoy the new feature now or very soon.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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