The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on small businesses. As a result, keeping up with changes can be difficult, whether hours have changed or dining options are restricted. To help people keep up with the latest news about their local businesses, Google Maps has added a community feed feature in the Explore tab.
The feed will show users the latest reviews, photos, and posts added to Google Maps, according to a blog post from Google. Updates can be added by local experts, people you follow, and food and drink merchants. Google said Maps users will also see articles from publishers in this feed, including from The Infatuation. The goal of the community feed is to keep people up-to-date on the latest changes, like if a delicious new dish has been added by a restaurant.
While the community feed is a great way to keep up to speed with new developments, Google is also making it easier for businesses to directly interface with customers. Starting today, verified businesses can message with customers right from the Google Maps app. Google said the feature was built to allow customers to make more informed decisions about where they shop.
Finally, a beta version of Google Maps appears to be adding improved rideshare integration, crosswalk markers, and building numbers (via AndroidPolice), making it easier than ever to navigate unfamiliar places. For ride-sharing, there’s a new option in the Maps settings. It looks like Uber is the only supported partner at the moment, but we could see other options in the future. Once the Uber option is toggled, Maps will provide users with fare information by sending route information to the ride-sharing company.
Images via Android Police
Meanwhile, crosswalk indicators and building numbers appear to now be in Google Maps. The feature was initially spotted in the beta version of Google Maps, but has apparently started showing up as part of a server-side update. The feature is only available in a few cities for now.
It’s been hard to keep up with everything with the spread of COVID-19. Thankfully, we’ve seen a number of really nice new features come to Google Maps, including a Live View for navigating with AR. These latest changes to the platform make it that much more enjoyable to use, and make navigating the world a little less daunting.
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