Google today announced a new version of Google Maps, which will be released later this summer. Of course, all the important features of Google Maps for getting directions will not be removed, but in addition, the team has now developed a new set of features that focus on exploration.
"About a year ago, when we started talking to users, we asked them, for example, how can we really help them, what else would you like to do with Google Maps, and one of the overwhelming answers we receive? There were really a lot of requests to help users explore an area and help me decide where to go, "Sophia Lin, Google's senior product manager on the Google Maps team, told me. "So we really started thinking about what we really can do here from Google, that would really help people."
Right now, Google Maps is obviously best known for helping people get where they want to go. For some time, however, Google has been offering all sorts of additional content in the service. However, many users never seem to touch these features. Although Lin could not tell me how many users currently use the existing Google Maps exploration tools, this new initiative is also part of an attempt to get users to go beyond maps when they think of maps.
And since this is Google, this new experience is all about personalization with the help of AI.
In the new Google Maps, you'll find the new "For You" tab, which is essentially a newsfeed-like experience with recommendations for you. You will be able to follow certain neighborhoods and cities (or perhaps a place you will visit soon), much like a social network. If Google Maps finds any interesting updates in this area – maybe a trend-setting restaurant or opening a new cafe – it will tell you.
"People had trouble finding out what's new," Lin told me. "Sometimes you're really lucky, and you're walking down the street and tripping over something, but often that's not the case and you're learning about six months after the opening, so we've started looking for anonymity in population dynamics, which are places Trend, what are the places people go. "
There are also algorithmically designed" foodie list "and" trend this week "lists that show you what's new and interesting and where the trendmakers are hanging in one area. As Lin told me, the foodie list is based on an anonymous cohort analysis that looks at where people who go out a lot get together. Because they are often the first to try out new places as well, their movements often tend to recognize trends. Similarly, the "Trending" list looks at the total population so that the list may change according to the season, such as an ice cream parlor in the summer.
For other items in the "For You" feed Google Maps will actually analyze articles about local news to see what's new.
Lin emphasizes that feeds are not so much about information, but about presenting the right information at the right time and for the right person. 19659002] In addition to the "For You" feed, there are also a number of new basic exploration features, all powered by AI. For example, Google Maps will produce lists of Michelin starred restaurants or popular brunch spots, depending on your context and time of day.
Another important new feature that soon leads to Maps is "your game" star ratings from various restaurants, before you decide where to go, then you know that these reviews can only tell you so much. With "Your Game", Google Maps now presents a personal rating that shows you exactly how a restaurant fits your preferences.
Google Maps determines these preferences based on the rating of these and other locations and their own settings, which you can manually set in the Google Maps preferences when this update becomes available. Interestingly, Google does not try to base these ratings on how other people like you rated a place.
The third important new feature of the new app is the group planning. Based on the demo I saw, the team really did a really good job. The general idea here is to allow you to easily create a list of suggestions for a group outing (or simply a dinner with your significant other) by long pressing on a location entry. Google Maps will then display a chat-head-like bubble that guides you around while you search for other places. After you've created your list, you can share it with your friends, who can then vote for their favorites.
Google will release this new Google Maps experience later this summer. It will come on both iOS and Android, although the team has not yet decided which comes first. For the time being, all these new features will come only to the app and not to the Internet.