The last thing we need in Google Maps is support for chat, considering the plethora of messaging apps available on smartphones right now — including Google’s own messaging applications. Some users have discovered that Google Maps will get a Messages menu item soon, but it’s not as bad as you think. It may turn out to be a useful feature and further improve the navigation experience provided by the world’s most popular mapping app.
Reddit user sanju2cool posted screenshots showing the new Messages menu. As always with Google Maps tests, the new tab may not be available to all Google Maps users out there since Google sometimes likes to test new features with a small number of users before making them widely available.
The Messages tab only lets you connect with businesses right now, which can be a convenient feature in cases where you need specific information about a local store or company that you can’t find online. The screenshots do not show any chats in progress with local businesses, so it’s unclear if the feature works on devices where the Messages tab is available. Businesses, of course, will have to actually use the feature in order for it to work with potential customers.
The feature will not let you talk to your contacts or other people for the time being, and hopefully that’s never going to happen in Google Maps. The app is not the place where you’d want to keep seeing notifications from family members and your friends, especially when you’re trying to navigate somewhere.
Google Maps does offer plenty of useful information about nearby places, aside from providing directions to any place on Earth, and it includes a way to plan meetings with friends. In the future, Google Maps will also get a few Waze-like incident reporting features to further improve navigation.