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This hidden Google Maps trick helps protect you from the coronavirus

Published Mar 12th, 2020 1:23PM EDT
Google Maps Features
Image: XanderSt/Shutterstock

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  • Google Maps has a few handy features that can help users deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic, including a built-in tool that will let you order food from inside the app.
  • As long as restaurants support the feature and as long as they’re still open for business, you can place your food order directly from within the navigation app.
  • Payment is made from inside the app as well, so you don’t even have to exchange money with the delivery person.
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The coronavirus pandemic will eventually be defeated, but that’s not happening anytime soon unless we all adhere to stricter rules. The best way to protect yourself against a potential infection is to limit your interactions with other people and keep clean at all times. Wash your hands as often as possible after you come in contact with other people or objects that may have been touched by others, and stay indoors as much as you can. “Social distancing” is a luxury not everyone can afford if they have to go to work, school, or other essential locations. Even if you work from home, you’ll still have to get out of the house to purchase supplies and food, and there’s no escaping that even in a lockdown. That’s what’s happening in Italy right now, where only grocery stores and pharmacies are open. Ordering online isn’t risk-free either, you’ll still have to meet a delivery person to get your stuff. However, that’s one way of further limiting your interactions with people, and Google Maps has a neat trick you might not know about that can help.

Google announced a few days ago a handy update to Google Maps that will let business owners update the listings for their companies with key information during the COVID-19 outbreak. What that means for regular Maps users is that you’ll know in advance whether your favorite restaurant is open and whether any changes apply to business hours.

But Maps already has another food-related feature that can come in handy during the novel coronavirus outbreak: you can order food directly from the app. All you need to do is search for participating restaurants, tap on the Order Online button that pops up, select Delivery, and choose a delivery service. You’ll pay for everything inside the Maps app, and you’ll just have to wait for the delivery person to bring your chosen meals.

The problem here is, of course, that you have to interact with that delivery person, but clips from China a few weeks ago showed how deliveries should work. The driver would drop the food at a designated location near your house, then backs away from it and you’ll pick it up when he or she is gone. Remember to plate all your food, dispose of any delivery containers, and then thoroughly wash your hands before actually eating.

The other issue is that restaurants will have to enforce strict rules and make sure that all staff is healthy. Clips from China showed a solution for that too. Deliveries during the lockdown came with notes detailing temperature readings for the person who cooked your meal and for the person who delivered it, thus ensuring neither of them had a fever.

Cooking your own food sounds ideal in such cases, but that may not always be possible. Deliveries could be the next best thing, assuming restaurants that deliver food take measures to ensure the health of their employees and patrons. Not to mention that ordering out and continuing to spend money during the pandemic is one way to fix that other problem that comes hand-in-hand with the coronavirus outbreak, the imminent global economic recession.

Getting back to the Maps feature, we’ll note that Google Maps isn’t the only Google app that can take your delivery order. But Maps is definitely an excellent tool for finding places to eat, especially the kind of restaurants that serve your favorite dishes. Placing orders with restaurants seems like a no-brainer if you’re already using the app to find new restaurants. The feature also works in Google Search, and Google Assistant can even help out with placing orders. Also, you can place your order online via the Order food feature at this link.

The feature will work best in the US, but it might work in other regions as well. A Google help page with more details about the feature is available at this link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.