Google Maps is adding a new location discovery feature powered by generative AI. This addition, now being previewed by select Google Local Guides in the U.S., aims to provide more personalized, conversational recommendations to help users effortlessly discover nearby places matching their needs and preferences.
The idea is that you can have a dialog with Maps to get suggestions as you would a person. Simply describe what you're looking for, like "places with a vintage vibe in San Francisco," and Google's large language model will analyze its database of over 250 million businesses alongside photos, ratings and reviews from its community to offer tailored ideas.
The AI results are smartly categorized and include photos and review snippets highlighting why a venue could be a good fit. You can then refine suggestions through followup questions, save places to revisit later, or easily share with friends. Whether you have specific tastes, niche interests or need to suddenly change plans due to weather, Maps' generative AI comes in handy by quickly providing indoor alternatives.
This launch represents a major evolution in discovering and exploring locales with Maps. Unlike the traditional search functionality, which might simply list results based on proximity, this AI-enhanced feature could help maps better understand the context of your queries, offering a more nuanced and tailored response that feels akin to talking with a knowledgeable local.
Speaking of which, "Local Guides" (the name Google gives to its most active maps users and contributors) will be the first to get access to this new capability this week in the US. Tapping into the wisdom of these mapping enthusiasts is a smart move, as it helps Google to essentially fine-tune the model while responsibly developing the technology.