What You Need To Know About Google Maps’ New Features

It's become a social network and it's already saving lives.

Kirsten Curtis |

If you haven’t noticed yet, Google Maps has transformed —and no —it’s not just another cool-looking face-lift. Google have introduced the Explore tab on the bottom left of the app’s interface, and it’s got a few features to make life easier.

If you’re like most, you may have passed this by, or perhaps too late for work to use Maps for anything but directions.  But the app is a smart move by Google to drive user engagement and save people some serious browsing time on where to eat or what to do. The explore tab has a range of benefits with Google seamlessly integrating navigation with place rankings, reviews and even events.

Why The Change?

According to Google, “in order for an app to be truly user-friendly, it has to be intuitive, anticipating what the user may need at any given time in their journey.” And that’s exactly what they’ve done. The Explore tab tailors a list of restaurants and activities in your vicinity, according to what you like, as well as your past reviews.

“A lot of the time people use Google products in ways Google didn’t even predict it. It’s so much easier to put everything for people in one place than for them having to hop off to other Google apps,” says Mich Atagana, Google SA’s Head of Communications and Public Affairs. “How many times have you searched for something on Google Maps instead of on Google? It’s that kind of user behaviour that made us think, ‘why not?’”


The New Features

Personalised recommendations:

Under the Explore tab you can now get suggestions and highlights of new restaurants, bars, services and shopping around any location in the world.

The foodie lists:

This aggregates reviews and ratings from other food lovers to give you a list of the top offerings. Once you click on a place, you then have all the information you need: an overview, rating, contact information, reviews, photos and, of course, directions on how to get there.

And this gets more specific, with “cheap” lists to eat the best food on a budget. You can also create a shared list with friends, for the best travel eatinery.

Order in:

We’re all too familiar with arriving in a new destination tired, sweaty and hungry, and in no mood to get out and look for food. Google Maps will let you know if there are any restaurants that deliver in the area, complete with contact details.


Discover top events and activities taking place nearby and see photos, descriptions and even filter these by categories depending on what you like. Whether you’re exploring the outdoors, a night out, or a dad looking for kid-friendly activities, just toggle the app filters and find something suitable.


Changing Lives  

Through the Explore tab you can become part of Google’s Local Guides Community. This connects you to a global community of explorers where you get points for sharing reviews, ratings, photos and lists. Your points gain you access to Google’s unreleased products, with chart toppers flown to Google conferences in San Francisco, USA.

But the Local Guides community have been used to save lives and help rape crisis victims. With the community used in a way that Google themselves didn’t predict. “A rape crisis organisation in Nigeria mobilised the Local Guides community to list all hospitals, police stations and crisis centres in the area,” says Atagana.

“This was after the organisation found that people were reporting that they’d been attacked and didn’t know where to go. And they didn’t have access to a crisis community to talk to.” The lists created by Local Guides gave rape victims the chance to be heard and find support.

So no matter where you are, check out Google Maps’ update and get involved, it’s MH approved and the most practical ‘face-lift’ we’ve seen to date.


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