Published on February 1, 2024, 4:18 pm

Google Maps is taking a leap forward in its quest to help users discover new places with the introduction of a generative AI feature. In an announcement made today, the company revealed that it will be utilizing large language models (LLMs) to analyze over 250 million locations on Google Maps and contributions from more than 300 million Local Guides. This analysis will enable the feature to provide personalized suggestions based on specific search queries.

For example, if you are looking for cool thrift shops in San Francisco, all you need to do is search for “places with a vintage vibe in SF” on Google Maps. The generative AI feature will generate shopping recommendations that are categorized accordingly. Additionally, it will also present “photo carousels and review summaries” to enhance the browsing experience.

One of the key aims of this new feature is to make the search process feel more conversational and intuitive, as if you were asking a friend for recommendations. If you happen to follow up your initial query with a question like “How about lunch?”, the AI will take into account your interest in vintage items and suggest restaurants that match your preferences, such as an old-school diner.

Google emphasizes that this new feature can provide recommendations even for highly niche or specific queries. The company believes that by leveraging generative AI, they can offer tailored suggestions to users across various interests and preferences.

Initially available for select Local Guides – which comprises members who contribute reviews, facts, and photos on Maps – the early access roll out will take place this week in the United States. However, Google plans to make it accessible to other users in the near future. The company has yet to confirm which other countries will receive this feature.

This latest development follows Google’s earlier efforts in transforming Google Maps into more than just a navigation tool. In October, they introduced several AI-powered features that transformed Maps into a full-fledged search tool capable of providing photo results and suggesting specific places when users entered vague queries like “things to do.” The generative AI feature can be seen as the next step in Maps’ evolution into a platform dedicated to discovering new and exciting destinations.

Google is committed to further enhancing Maps with generative AI, stating that “this is just the beginning.” With this ongoing investment in artificial intelligence, Google Maps is sure to continue revolutionizing how we explore and navigate the world around us.


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