- The Google Maps app has been updated on Android, and soon to be updated on iOS, to highlight restaurants' most popular dishes, according to TechCrunch.
- The information for Maps is pulled from machine learning based on reviews and photos. The technology gleans positive reviews while also matching the dish to photos uploaded by customers. Menu suggestions appear in the Overview tab in Google Maps. When customers see a dish that interests them, they can tap on it to then see all the related reviews.
- The update comes less than a month after Google introduced a similar feature for Lens, which shows the most popular dish on a restaurant's menu.
This added feature from Google continues to illustrate the company's focus on the restaurant space, as it not only comes on the heels of its Lens updates, but also Google Maps' redesign in October that added star ratings for bars and restaurants on the map view. The company also added a delivery option within its Maps, Search and Assistant platforms through partnerships with delivery.com and ChowNow.
All of these new features will be significant for capturing a potentially new audience for restaurants especially since Google Maps is by far the most popular navigation app with nearly three-fourths of mobile navigation users preferring it.
These updates essentially remove steps from users' searches, positioning Google and its mobile properties as critical tools for restaurants. Restaurants will have to get creative on how to market themselves and encourage customers to engage with the Google features so their establishments will be included in the space, especially as it becomes more intuitive for users.
The moves also potentially threaten review sites such as Yelp, as consumers become more judicious of what can take up precious real estate on their mobile phones. Most consumers use just nine apps a day, according to a report from App Annie. Two of those apps being dedicated to restaurant reviews/searches is unlikely.
Accordingly, a recent study from Brightlocal shows that Google is acquiring reviews faster than Yelp, TripAdvisor and other review platforms. The pressure on other review sites could become more intense as Google's machine learning process further refines the new features, including the "For You" tab that offers personalized suggestions on where to shop and dine. In the Amazon era, such personalization has quickly come to be a consumer expectation.
Will consumers buy into Google's increasing presence in the restaurant space? Chances are good mobile users care less about where their searches are coming from and more about how easy and convenient those searches are to facilitate. Google seems to be working hard to ensure that's the case.