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Google brings generative AI to Maps

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Google’s generative AI push continues, this time with Google Maps. The app has now been sprinkled with AI, but there’s a catch – these new features are, for now, only rolling out to “select Local Guides” in the US.

If you are one of those lucky people, you can now use generative AI in Maps to help with discovering places, whatever your specific needs may be. You just say what you’re looking for in normal language, and Google’s large-language models will analyze Maps’ places database to give you an answer.

Google says the Local Guides’ “insights and valuable feedback” will help shape the feature before it gets a wider release, so think of it as a sort of closed beta for now.

In its official announcement post, Google gives this example of how you may use the new feature – just say “places with a vintage vibe in San Francisco” and you’ll be presented with “rich information” about nearby businesses and places, complete with photos, ratings, and reviews from the Maps community.

The results are organized into categories and come with photo carousels and review summaries which highlight why a place might be of interest to you based on your prompt. Once you’ve asked something, you can then continue the conversation with a follow-up question without restating anything – so you can just jump straight to “how about lunch?” in the aforementioned example. Then you’ll get places that match the vibe you were going for.

Of course you can save all of the places that get recommended to you this way, or share them with friends. The sky’s the limit, as they say, with regard to what you can ask, which is what can potentially make this a very useful feature once it’s polished and rolled out to everyone.

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