Google Maps goes beyond directions


The news was announced onstage at the Google I/O developer conference being held May 8-10 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. Google Maps already knows its way around our world better than many of its inhabitants, and while it can easily churn out a set of directions from here to there, plotting a route on an overhead map can feel six kinds of old-fashioned. "And one of the overwhelming answers that we got back was just really a lot of requests around helping users explore an area, help me decide where to go", Sophia Lin, Google's senior product manager on the Google Maps team, told me.

"For You" Tab: An all-new tab featuring places you may want to try in areas you regularly frequent. Your friends, once they have access, can then vote on the options in real-time. It doesn't matter if a Chinese restaurant has a 4.9-star rating if you only like pizza, and that's the problem that Google is trying to solve with a new "For You" tab. This will be based on factors including places you have visited before, preferences you have shared with Maps, information about the business, and previous personal user ratings.

Be on the lookout for these changes in the coming months. So if you're exhausted of sorting through all those 4-star options, soon you can just go with your machine-based match.

When you tap on any food or drink venue you will get a number that suggests how likely you are to enjoy the place - this is called your "match".

Adding the essence of a social network, Google Maps will soon incorporate a new group planning feature that lets users create shareable shortlists making it easier to coordinate plans with friends and family.

Google Maps keeps growing up.

Other Maps features showcased at I/O will be coming to the iOS and Android versions of Maps later this summer. A step above GPS, VPS effectively lays Maps' navigation features over what the user sees in the Camera app.