Google Maps is getting a new update that’ll help you discover hidden gems in your area thanks to AI - and I can't wait to try it out

Google Maps on phone
(Image credit: Henry Perks/Unsplash)

It looks like Google Maps is getting a cool new feature that’ll make use of generative AI to help you explore your town - grouping different locations to make it easier to find restaurants, specific shops, and cafes. In other words, no more sitting around and mulling over where you want to go today!

Android Authority did an APK teardown (which basically means decompiling binary code within a program into a programming language that can be read normally) which hints at some new features on the horizon. The code within the Google Maps beta included mention of generative AI, which led Android Authority to Google Labs. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Labs, it’s a platform where users can experiment with Google’s current in-development tools and AI projects, like Gemini Chrome extensions and music ‘Time Travel’.

So, what exactly is this new feature that has me so excited? Say you’re really craving a sweet treat. Instead of going back to your regular stop or simply Googling ‘sweet treats near me’, you’ll be able to ask Google Maps for exactly what you’re looking for and the app will give you suggestions for nearby places that offer it. Naturally, it will also provide you with pictures, ratings, and reviews from other users that you can use to make a decision.

Google announced these AI upgrades back in February, but only a limited number of people got them right away. If they make it to Labs, they'll be available as an option for every user.

Sweet treat treasure hunter 

I absolutely love the idea and I really hope we get to see the feature come to life as someone who has a habit of going to the same places over and over again because I either don’t know any alternatives or just haven’t discovered other parts of my city. The new feature has the potential to offer a serious upgrade to Google Maps’ more specific location search abilities, beyond simply typing in the name of the shop you want or selecting a vague group like ‘Restaurants’ as you can currently. 

You’ll be able to see your results into categories, and if you want more in-depth recommendations you can ask follow-up questions to narrow down your search - much in the same way that AI assistants like Microsoft Copilot can ‘remember’ your previous chat history to provide more context-sensitive results. I often find myself craving a little cake or a delicious cookie, so if I want that specific treat I can specify to the app what I’m craving and get a personalized list of reviewed recommendations. 

We’re yet to find out when exactly to expect this new feature, and without an official announcement, we can’t be 100% certain that it will ever make a public release. However, I’m sure it would be a very popular addition to Google Maps, and I can’t wait to discover new places in my town with the help of an AI navigator.

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Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison. Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place. Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).