John Rensten
June 22, 2017

Google Maps already contains an insane amount of stuff. Gone are the days of the app simply getting you to and fro. Now you can book a reservation or order delivery. Google Maps even uses your location data to remind you if you’ve been somewhere before. And now, in a cool new feature for the agoraphobic, the app can tell you how busy places are in real time – helpful stuff if you’re like me and always looking to drink alone!

Last year, the tech giant sought to give patrons a glimpse into how busy establishments were with the addition of “popular times,” a feature that provides a day-by-day and hour-by-hour breakdown predicting crowds at places like restaurants, bars or shops. Now, Google announced it will be updating that info in real time – using anonymous location data to estimate exactly how many people are hanging out somewhere at any given moment. Yes, that means Google Maps can now give you a heads-up on what the scene is like at the club. Um, any idea what kind of music they’re playing, Google?

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According to ZDNet, Google is billing the new feature, which started rolling out for some spots on Monday, as a great way to deal with potential holiday shopping crowds. But holiday shopping crowds are kind of inevitable – they are also more of a seasonal affliction. From a practical standpoint, the new feature seems tailor made to help guide people worried about long waits at restaurant or who are debating a quiet drink versus a wild night out. To help with these decisions, the new Google Maps update also will start to estimate the amount of time people spend in one place – info featured with a little timer icon below the “popular times” info.

Of course, while all this additional info is supposed to be helpful, it actually leaves a lot of number crunching. Hopefully in the near future, Google can just tell us whether we should go somewhere or not. I don’t like to think Google: I want answers! Where should I eat? What should I order? CAN YOU JUST EAT IT FOR ME, GOOGLE?!

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