Google Maps is getting better at helping you avoid crowds

Google Maps is getting better at helping you avoid crowds
PHOTO: Mashable

Google Maps for iOS just became a whole lot more useful.

A new feature in "Popular Times" in the most recent update (version 4.27.0 on iOS, version 9.44.3 on Android) gives you a rough idea of how crowded a specific store or restaurant is right this second.

Google Maps has had Popular Times, which uses "aggregated and anonymized data from users who have opted in to Google Location History" for some time.

It displays how busy (or not busy) a business is, hour by hour, on a bar graph.

With the update, a live pink bar shows how busy a place is in real time; it appears as an overlay on the bar graph so you can compare to how busy the venue is on average (using collected location data from the opt-in users from "the last several weeks"):

The new live feature should, in theory, help you avoid big, unexpected crowds - like when, say, an entire office decides to visit a particular bar at a time when it's not usually busy, which wouldn't necessarily show up on the graph of the average Popular Times.

It could also help avoid disappointment when a venue is unexpectedly closed - if there's zero foot traffic when there's usually a lot, chances are there's no one home.

For instance, there's one specific Red Lobster location in New York City that seems to always be packed.

With Popular Times, I can see that this Red Lobster is not as busy on Thursdays compared to Fridays and Saturdays, and the best time with the least amount of people seems to be right before noon.

Popular Times shows times for businesses (restaurants and stores) and doesn't work on places like landmarks.

At least not yet.

Read the full article here.

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