It’s a Friday night in the city. You have finished work at a superhuman pace so you could beat the rush-hour traffic and meet your buddies at the bar to kick-start the weekend. But tragedy strikes at the door – the receptionist sympathetically smiles and tells you that there’s a waiting time of 45 minutes.
Well there’s good news for all ye who have almost fainted with hunger or beer pangs while waiting for a table, or almost been trampled over by anxious shoppers during a sale! Google has now updated its ‘Popular Time’ feature, which will now tell you how busy a place is in real-time before you get there.
Part of Google Maps, the feature will now display a ‘Live’ tag, showing a red overlay on top of the ‘historic busy period data’, which shows how busy the place is at any given time through the week. It does this by using anonymised location data from its users’ smartphones to estimate how many people might be there at any given time.
The ‘Popular Times’ feature was added to Google Maps just last year. However, until now it only allowed a user to check how busy a place typically is at different times of the week. Although mostly accurate, it relied on basic data was fairly obvious among users already. For instance, a restaurant or a bar would typically be ‘busy’ or crowded during the peak lunch and dinner times. This is usually between 1 pm to 3 pm and 7 pm 10 pm on a weekday, extending on the weekends.
But with this updated feature, Google will now tell you how busy any place instantly.
How it works
For example, you can type ‘Monkey Bar’ in Google Maps right now and log into to the same page an hour later, and once the location appears on the map with the allotted time, swipe up. Right below the displayed pictures of the place, under ‘Popular Times’, you can find a red LIVE button with either ‘busy’ or ‘not busy’ written next to it. It can even tell you the number of hours customers typically stay there, in this case between 45 minutes to three hours.
So you can then decide whether to go to a particular place depending on its status and also gauge how long you would have to wait to get a table. If you’re shopping at a mall, you can choose to start with the shops that are ‘not busy’ and then move on to the ‘busy’ ones once they clear out slightly.
Not all services or departments within businesses have the same operating hours. Opening hours in Google Maps can now display the unique hours for different services or departments within stores, businesses, and restaurants.
“If you’re playing host for the day, you can also check and see how long people typically stay at a given location. That way you can plan your itinerary to the minute,” said Google in its official blog.
The multibillion dollar conglomerate has aptly launched this feature a few days before the Black Friday sales begin in the US, a move which worked in favour of its users across the world as well.