This week, Google has been rolling out an incredible new feature to Google Search: For “millions” of places and businesses around the world, users will now be able to see data on “popular times,” essentially letting people know when these spots are at their busiest. The information is presented via a bar graph of times throughout the day and can be scrolled through to view all seven days of the week.
If you’re the kind of person who hates waiting in line for coffee or has been wondering when you might be able to grab a table at that restaurant that doesn’t take reservations (or prefers drinking alone instead of with others), this new feature could certainly prove helpful. What’s a little scary is how this data was collected.
The info isn’t being provided to Google by the businesses. Quite the opposite actually: The tech giant has compiled the information by tracking us via our phone’s GPS systems. “Much like we compute traffic data based on the anonymized aggregated movement of people on the road, we are able to determine relatively how busy a place is,” Google told TechCrunch.
Um… Wow. It’s probably only a matter of time before Google can tell us what order is most popular. If you value your privacy, maybe just write “chicken parm” on a folded napkin and slide it to your waitress.
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