Google has announced several new features in Google Maps to keep you sane this holiday season by helping you avoid crowds, find your way around the malls, and even get your holiday dinner shopping done.
First off, Google is expanding its crowdedness data features for public transit and specific stores into a broader tool that it’s calling “Area Busyness.” This will show you how many folks are gathering in a specific neighborhood, rather than an individual store. As Google explains, you can use this information however you like, whether you want to steer clear of the crowds or seek out the hottest spots in town.
Google is also expanding its Directory tab globally, so you’ll be able to get detailed information on what’sgoing on inside many more airports, malls, and transit stations around the world. This includes what types of stores are in a given building, including their locations and hours of operation, along with the availability of car rental services, airport lounges, parking lots, and more.
For folks in the U.S. planning their holiday feast, Google Maps is also expanding its grocery store pickup service to over 2,000 Kroger, Fry’s, Ralphs, and Mariano’s stores across 30 states. You’ll be able to place your order online, track its status, share your ETA, and let the store know you’ve arrived — all without ever leaving Google Maps. The search giant also says that people who use the Google Maps grocery pickup service typically wait less than five minutes to fetch their groceries.
If a night out on the town is more your style, Google Maps also has you covered here, with expanded details in the reviews for U.S. dining spots. Restaurants and cafes will begin showing price ranges, so you can easily find a location to fit your budget. Google is also making it easier for other visitors to share details like availability of outdoor seating, delivery options, and curbside pickup.
Starting today, the global directory tab and grocery pickup services are available on Google Maps for Android and iOS. Expanded restaurant reviews and Area Busyness will be rolling out over the next few weeks, just in time for the holiday season.