Google has launched some new Google Maps features aimed at helping shoppers avoid busy crowds when holiday shopping, including Area Busyness and Directories. With Black Friday fast approaching (and Christmas soon after), we all know how congested shopping locations can get when they reach max capacity. The update follows a year of similar updates that help users do more than simply navigate from A to B.
The new features for Maps will share more detailed insights about places like airports, shopping areas, and other public spaces. The improvements are meant to help Google Maps users better navigate their way around places they might have to go visit during busy upcoming shopping periods.
Area Busyness is a new feature that provides location updates to help users instantly spot when a neighborhood or part of town is near and at its busiest. Google says that the feature can help facilitate more pleasant journeys, enabling shoppers to identify and avoid busy areas or highlight the hot spots when you're new to an area.
This is achieved through a mixture of real-time and historical location data that the app collects to provide so-called 'busyness trends.' Though the numbers aren't always exact, they can give a pretty good steer on how busy somewhere will be before you arrive. When the feature goes live, users will simply have to tap on the area on Google Maps to bring up its busyness trend.
Location, location, location
Google is also adding Directories, an indoor-mapping feature designed to help people navigate shopping areas, airports, and transit stations. The Directory tab will help users discern what stores are in a particular building, as well as other helpful information such as whether a location is open, its shopper rating, and what floor it's on inside said building.
Google says that Area Busyness will be rolled out globally, on both Android and iOS, "in time for this holiday season." It means that the best iPhone and best Android phones may have the new feature in time for Christmas, but it will arrive slightly too late for this year's Black Friday. However, it's something that will no doubt become essential for future Black Fridays and other shopping events to come during the busiest times of the year.
Of course, Google Maps isn't the only navigation platform to get you from A to B. There are, of course, a variety of alternatives – though none have quite yet mastered the art of navigation as Google Maps. One platform to keep an eye on is Petal Maps, which recently updated its app with public transport navigation in 16 countries, alongside cycle route planning in 11 countries. Petal Maps is Huawei's navigation offering and shows that the map app scene is burgeoning with lots of different platforms trying to steal the mantle from Google Maps.