New Google Maps Explore Feature Takes On Foursquare

Google wants to help you make decisions using the tool you already use to get directions.

On Thursday, the company launched an Explore feature for Google Maps that lets people discover places like restaurants and local hot spots with a tap of an icon located in the far right corner of Maps.

Like Foursquare’s new flagship application which eliminates the check-in, Google’s Explore feature is designed to help you find out information about places near you, and learns your behavior when you confirm places you visit to provide better suggestions.

Using Explore in Google Maps will also take into account factors like weather and time of day, so you won’t get suggestions for a dinner restaurant at 9 a.m. or suggestions for a park if it’s pouring rain. You’ll be able to get more information from a place once you’ve arrive and you can bookmark places for later—a handy feature for saving your favorite burrito spot.

Tapping the Explore icon also shows you top-rated restaurants from Zagat and categories like popular attractions, local favorites and weekend brunch spots.

Explore is available in Google Maps on iOS and Android. Google suggests signing in with your Google account to use the new feature, and turn on location reporting and history—though I tested it this morning without signing in, and it provided some great suggestions. 

Lead image by Pedro Ribeiro Simões on Flickr. Explore images courtesy of Google. 

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