If you're looking to go somewhere, you probably start your search with Google Maps, before heading over to Yelp and Trip Advisor. Google's not happy with that state of affairs, and is determined to make sure that its mapping platform is where you start, and end, your plans for Friday night. The company has announced a whole slew of new features that'll gradually turn Maps into the only tool you'll need to plan a night out.
The company describes this as a way for Maps to become more "assistive and personal," making it easier to figure out what to do and where to go. Part of this is simply to avoid your wasting time scrolling through endless four-star listings on other platforms while you look for someplace to go. Instead you'll get curated lists of what's good based on the area or neighborhood you're looking up.
There will be lists, like the Foodie List, that pull together data from trusted publishers, local experts, other users and Google's algorithms. You'll be told where the "tastemakers are going" and even get a checklist, letting you track the joints you've visited and the ones you still need to make time to see. Selecting a restaurant, meanwhile, will provide you with a "match," a score-out-of-one-hundred that tells you how likely you are to enjoy it.
It's these match scores that are the most interesting, since it's basically Google's own algorithms telling you how it thinks you'll like a particular place. The system will leverage what it already knows about you, where you've been before and whether you've made ratings to places previously. And if you want your score to improve, you'll need to train the system by rating more places and adding them to your lists.
Google is also trying to make group planning easier by letting you pick, say, one of two places and offering it up to a vote. All of the invitees can then determine which place you want to hang out in, Google Maps will make the reservation for you, and it can even schedule rides to and from the restaurant.
If that wasn't enough, a new "For You" tab will let you know about all of the exciting culinary adventures taking place in your 'hood. You can follow an area, getting updates when new restaurants open up and schedules for any pop-ups by your favorite chefs.
The new features will be rolling out to both Android and iOS users in the near future, alongside a feature that'll punch you in the face if you even think about loading Yelp. Only joking.
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