UPDATE: Google Integrates Reviews Into Maps; Camera On The Way

Google’s employees must never sleep; or that’s how it might appear to millions worldwide as the company continues to update their products from both a policy and feature standpoint. While the rest of the population is sleeping, the masterminds of Google are constantly making tweaks to their various verticals, updating policies and changing algorithms.

If there’s any singular, undeniable truth about Google, it’s their ability to never stay in one place for too long. Surely there’s much speculation around the web regarding why Google is constantly updating and evolving, but regardless of your stance on the matter; it doesn’t change the fact that Google is indeed evolving on a constant basis, and businesses who rely on the company in any way would be wise to adhere.

Throughout the numerous updates Google has rolled out regarding their policies for online reviews and how businesses utilize the Google My Business platform to collect them, the updates they’ve made to and have announced for Google Maps in the last few weeks has far surpassed any policy update of recent times.

Towards the end of May, Google Maps rolled out a feature that allows users to not only see the exact location of a business on Google Maps and their overall rating; but to also search for specific keywords within the reviews Google has collected for that particular business.

To use this newly added feature on any iOS device, simply open Google Maps, search for any business, such as a restaurant (as seen above). Scroll down to the review section of the information panel, and you’ll see a search box underneath the words “All reviews”. Here, you can enter any word, and the results will show reviews that include the keyword you’ve entered. For Android devices, you simply search for a business in Google Maps. When you see the results, click on the business’s name or address, then click the ‘reviews’ tab in the middle. Here, you’ll see a search box similar to the one pictured above, where you can run a search the same way.

The new addition of the review search box within Google Maps not only allows users to search keywords within the reviews themselves, but it also will search for specific words within review titles, as well. Users still have the option to sort the reviews however they’d like, should they be more inclined to search by date rather than a specific keyword.

With 28% of consumers naming Google as their go-to source for reviews —followed by Facebook (26%), then Yelp (22%) —, the integration of searchable reviews in Google Maps may even raise that percentage, as Google reviews become increasingly accessible and streamlined. Now that Google reviews are not only viewable but searchable within the Google Maps platform; it’s going to be something to watch and gauge whether consumers are more drawn to leave reviews on Google rather than Facebook, Yelp or any other platform because of this added cohesion.

Google has clearly been on a monstrous roll when it comes to putting new rules of the internet into play by adjusting policies and implementing new features into various platforms. However, with Google being Google; that’s not all they’ve got up their innovative and daring sleeves. Behind closed doors, Google has been testing out a new feature for Google Maps that’s sure to bring the GPS world to their knees.

By integrating visual guidance and position technology into the Google Maps platform, Aparna Chennapragada, VP of Google, said that users could easily get step-by-step real-time directions based on what’s seen in their camera on their mobile device. We know: that may be a bit much to process all at once; but stick with us and we’ll help break it down.

The news of this futuristic upgrade to the typical Google Maps experience was first reported by Chennapragada at Google I/O in May 2018. The way Google sees it, the days of opening your Google Maps app on your mobile device and trying to follow the blue light are soon to be forgotten.

With their newly coined Visual Positioning System (VPS), users will be able to use their mobile phone’s camera to help Google pinpoint your location and direction based on your surroundings. With Google’s extensive back-end data and the added information of your literal, visual surroundings, Google Maps can tell you exactly which way to turn.

Often times, a GPS platform will tell you to head [insert direction] on a certain street. Sure, if you know your surroundings and whereabouts enough, you’ll surely be able to figure out which way is ‘south’. However, if you know where you are, you’re likely not using a GPS platform. When you’re in an unfamiliar place and your GPS tells you to head north on Guadalupe; how are you suppose to know which way you’re supposed to turn to go ‘north’?

In addition, you could be in a place where your service and/or data is limited, giving you less-than-adequate directions. With the help of VPS, Google will identify and locate your surroundings for you within Google Maps, and then direct you which way to turn. For example, if you’re standing on the corner of an intersection and don’t know which way to turn in order to head west; you’d simply open your camera within Google Maps, allow VPS to scan your surroundings, then will be given advice such as, “turn right”, with a visual to match your current scenery.

While this update isn’t fully ready for action in the hands of consumers, it’s surely going to break boundaries within the mapping world. While Google Maps continues to upgrade and evolve, the addition of searchable Google reviews within Maps, along with the future integration of VPS into Google Maps, could lead to Google become increasingly dominate in the online review sector. Only time will tell, but one thing’s for certain: we can’t wait to see what else Google’s up to down the line.

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