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Google Maps Introduces 3 Updates to Simplify Summer Travel Planning

by Josh Kirschner on April 02, 2024

As the summer travel season approaches, many folks, including myself, are looking forward to embarking on a well-earned vacation. However, the trip planning process can often be time-consuming and overwhelming due to the vast array of options available for activities, dining, and accommodations. Google Maps' latest updates aim to address these challenges by providing users with personalized recommendations, curated lists, and relevant insights to help them make decisions while traveling.

As someone who has uses Google Maps' to keep track of hidden gems in my hometown of New York City and to plan my vacations, these coming updates look promising.

Discovering and Customizing Lists

Curated Lists from Trusted Sources

Google Maps has introduced new features that allow users to discover and customize lists of recommended places, making it easier for travelers to find inspiration and plan their itineraries. These curated lists are currently available in select cities across the United States and Canada, and are sourced from both top travel & entertainment sites and the Google Maps community.

Users searching for a specific city within Maps will now have access to lists of recommendations from trusted sources such as The Infatuation, Lonely Planet, The New York Times, and OpenTable. These expert-curated lists cover a wide range of categories, including restaurants, iconic sites, hidden gems, and the best new dining establishments.

Updates to Google Maps' Own Restaurant Lists

In addition to the curated lists from partner sites, Google Maps is also updating its own set of restaurant lists, which are based on the collective interests and preferences of the Maps community. These lists, which include the Trending, Top, and Gems categories, are designed to showcase the most popular, consistently loved, and hidden gem restaurants in a given area.

The Trending list, updated weekly, highlights places that have recently experienced a surge in popularity on Maps. The Top list features establishments that have consistently received high ratings and positive feedback from the Maps community. Finally, the Gems list showcases lesser-known restaurants that may be considered a neighborhood's best-kept secrets, similar to the Jamaican jerk chicken spot and Chinese roast pork bun bakery I have saved in my personal favorites list.

These Google Maps-generated restaurant lists are currently available in more than 40 cities across the United States and Canada, with plans to expand to more locations in the coming months.

Read more: 16 Surprising Things You Can Do with Google Maps

Customization Tools for Personal Lists

You can now benefit from enhanced customization tools for your personal lists. These tools allow travelers to tailor their saved places to better suit their needs. One notable customization feature is the ability to reorder places within a list, proving particularly useful when planning a trip itinerary, as you can easily arrange your saved places in a logical sequence to create a more structured and organized travel plan. This feature would have proved invaluable during my recent vacation to Mexico City to help me organize my trip more efficiently and ensure that I didn't miss out on any of must-do activities I flagged.

Furthermore, Google Maps now enables you to link content from your social media channels to the places on your lists, allowing travelers to provide additional context and personal insights about the destinations they have visited or plan to visit. It's not clear from the announcement how exactly this will work, so we'll learn more when the the customization tools for personal lists roll out globally on Android and iOS shortly.

AI-Powered Insights for On-the-Go Decision Making

Google Maps is leveraging AI (is anyone not leveraging AI?) to provide users with valuable insights and information about places. By analyzing data from the Maps community, including photos and reviews, the AI will identify and summarize the key highlights and unique features of a particular location. For example, when you pull up a place on Maps, you will be presented with a concise overview of what people love about it.

The AI will also help navigate unfamiliar cuisines by identifying specific dishes in restaurant photos and extracting relevant information from restaurant menus to help you make more informed dining choices. This includes details such as the price of a dish, its popularity among other diners, and whether it is suitable for specific dietary preferences, such as vegetarian or vegan options.

Read more: How to Measure Distance on Google Maps

Design Updates for Improved User Experience

Alongside the introduction of new features, Google Maps has also undergone some design updates to enhance the overall user experience. The home screen now features fewer tabs, providing a cleaner and more intuitive interface. Additionally, new pin colors have been introduced to help you more easily identify and differentiate between various types of places on the map, making it quicker for you to locate specific destinations.

[Image credit: Conceptual rendering by Techlicious via Midjourney]

Josh Kirschner is the co-founder of Techlicious and has been covering consumer tech for more than a decade. Josh started his first company while still in college, a consumer electronics retailer focused on students. His writing has been featured in, NBC News and Time.


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