Google’s latest Maps features help you avoid Christmas shopping

Google is adding a handful of new features to Google Maps in time for the holiday season, which together should make getting around a slightly less crowded experience. The new features were announced in a blog post today.

A new “Area Busyness” feature provides information on how popular neighborhoods are instead of just specific destinations, while the app’s “Directory” tab is rolled out globally to provide more information about the shops and facilities inde places like shopping malls and airports. Google Maps is also expanding its grocery tracking feature to cover more stores across the United States, and is trying to make its restaurant reviews more detailed.

The Directory tab provides information about shops and facilities in large complexes such as airports.
Image: Google

Area Busyness is an extension of the information that Google Maps already provides about the crowded public transportation and the popularity of specific shops and places during the week. Instead of just offering details about specific locations, Google Maps will now be able to provide information about how busy a general neighborhood is. Google hopes the feature will both allow users to avoid crowds or chase them if they are in the mood for a party atmosphere. Google says Area Busyness will launch globally on Android and iOS “in time for this holiday season.”

In the meantime, the Directory tab will be available for all airports, malls and transit stations around the world where Google has available data. It shows what amenities (such as airport lounges and parking spaces) and shops are available inside places that are often shown as just a single place in Google Maps. The app can then provide detailed information such as opening hours and customer ratings. The Directory tab will also be available globally on iOS and Android.

The service’s restaurant reviews will also be more detailed with further information on price ranges. It also simplifies the process of adding information on amenities such as outdoor seating and delivery options.

Google Maps also expands its pickup feature, which lets users track their order status and then share with the store when they expect to arrive for pickup without ever leaving the app. The feature was first launched earlier this year and has since expanded to cover over 2,000 stores in 30 U.S. states, including Kroger Family stores like Kroger, Fry’s, Ralphs and Marianos, Google says.

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