Google is planning to introduce generative AI to Google Maps. The new feature will help users discover interesting places with the help of large language models (LLM). By analyzing Maps’ detailed information on over 250 million places and insights from a community of over 300 million contributors, the LLM will provide recommendations for restaurants and shopping, among other things.
According to Google, a new feature will be introduced in the US which is yet to be launched in other countries.
Google has been working for years to transform its navigation product to a search tool that can help people discover new places instead of just providing directions. The company aims to use its expertise in generative AI to expedite this transition, making it a logical next step.
The examples Google provides of its generative AI search feature use are very Google:
“Let’s say you’re visiting San Francisco and want to plan a few hours of thrifting for unique vintage finds. Just ask Maps what you’re looking for, like “places with a vintage vibe in SF.” Our AI models will analyze Maps’ rich information about nearby businesses and places along with photos, ratings, and reviews from the Maps community to give you trustworthy suggestions.”
Google has announced that it will be integrating generative AI into Google Maps in collaboration with its Local Guides community. The company is starting small with this integration and has decided to initially limit access to this feature to the Local Guides community only. The objective behind this limited access is to ensure that the AI technology is used thoughtfully. However, Google plans to roll out this feature for all users at a later date.
Local Guides is a community of explorers who have been contributing to Google Maps since 2019. They write reviews, share photos, answer questions, add or edit places, and verify facts on Google Maps.
It’s unclear how much this new feature will differ from a regular Google Maps search for “vintage store SF”. I assume the response will be more conversational, in a chatbot style that we are becoming familiar with, rather than simply listing vintage shops by proximity.