Courtesy of Google Maps
Jessica Plautz
May 08, 2018

Google Maps is redesigning its “Explore” tab this summer to improve its recommendations for restaurants, events, and activities. Among the key features will be a personalized score indicating how much Google thinks you'll enjoy a restaurant or bar (at least on the surface, comparable to Netflix's percentage telling you how much you might like a movie).

Google announced the changes at its developer conference, Google I/O, in Mountain View on Tuesday.

The idea, according to Google Maps Senior Product Manager Sophia Lin, is that “in addition to helping you get where you need to go, we’ll help you discover new places to eat and things to do around you.”

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On the Explore tab, you'll be able to see dining, event and activity options in the selected area. There will also be lists that show top-ranked options; for example, a “Foodie List” will include recommendations for trending restaurants based on local experts, Maps' own algorithms, and Google's trusted publishers. If you go to places on the list, Maps will cross them off to show your progress. (Gotta catch 'em all.)

For each place, Google Maps will also be using machine learning to display a “match” number meant to show “how likely you are to enjoy a food or drink spot based on your unique preferences,” Lin told Travel + Leisure.

Courtesy of Google Maps

“We've heard from our users that combing through lists, star ratings, photos, and reviews was often information overload — some called it 4-star fatigue,” she said. “The benefit of getting a match is that it helps you identify which restaurants you might like based on your unique interests and preferences, so you can spend less time planning and more time having fun.”

Of course, as anyone with an odd Netflix watch history is well aware, algorithm-based recommendations are only as good as the data points put into them.

“There are a few things you can do to make sure your match is as accurate as possible,” Lin told T+L. “You can rate places on Google Maps, which helps us determine which restaurants you like so we can improve your match for similar places moving forward.”

“You can also tell us about your food and drink preferences,” she said, “so we’ll know if you enjoy certain types of cuisines or restaurant types, like family friendly spots or places with live music.” (In the app's settings, users will be able to select among various options.)

Courtesy of Google Maps

It will also be easier to create and share lists in Maps, so you can come up with some ideas and share them with friends and family and — assuming the group has similar or comparable tastes — vote on what to do and where to go.

And finally, expect to see a new “For You” tab that rounds up all of those personalized recommendations. Trending places and restaurant openings, among other things, will be highlighted in your preferred neighborhoods.

While reviews aren't going anywhere, they do seem to have peaked, while curation is on the rise. So if you're tired of sorting through all those 4-star options, soon you can just go with your machine-based match.

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