Artificial intelligence is an ever-evolving technology that finds new use cases on what feels like a daily basis. In my bingo card for AI, however, I never thought that I’d be writing about Google using its artificial intelligence tools to help us search by “vibes.”
That’s where we’re at, though. In a blog post, the company announced that it is integrating generative AI into Google Maps in a new way. No, you’re not going to have a conversation with a Google Maps chatbot that takes on the persona of someone from the Travel Channel. However, you will be able to search more conversationally for places you’re interested in.
The example the company gives is a user who wants to search for a thrift shop in San Fransisco. Instead of searching “vintage shops,” you’ll now be able to search more conversationally with a prompt like “places with a vintage vibe in SF.” You can continue the conversation with follow-up questions like “How about lunch?” to get matched to restaurants that match that vintage vibe.
Let’s say you’re visiting San Francisco and want to plan a few hours of thrifting for unique vintage finds. Just ask Maps what you’re looking for, like “places with a vintage vibe in SF.” Our AI models will analyze Maps’ rich information about nearby businesses and places along with photos, ratings and reviews from the Maps community to give you trustworthy suggestions.
The other example the company gives is that you can incorporate considerations like the weather in your searches. If it rains, you can easily find activities near you that you can do indoors.
These AI-powered results also come in handy if you’re feeling spontaneous or need to change your plans suddenly. For example, if you’re out and about and it starts to rain, just ask Maps for “activities for a rainy day” to get suggestions for indoor activities. You’ll get helpful suggestions like comedy shows or movie theaters. If you’re looking for options the whole family can enjoy, ask a follow-up question like, “What about options for kids?”. You’ll see places like bowling alleys, children’s museums or indoor playgrounds depending on where you are, along with highlights based on reviews from people who have been there.
Google says that the feature is powered by its large-language models (LLMs) that have analyzed the 250 million places and reviews from 300 million contributors on Google Maps. The company says the upgraded search is rolling out this week to select users in the United States, so you may have to wait a bit before you get your hands on the vital ability to search by vibes.
The announcement comes on the same day that Google Bard finally caught up to OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing and allows you to create AI-generated images through text prompts.