Technology

Now You Can Chat Via Google Maps, But Only With Businesses

Google Maps messaging feature
TeroVesalainen / Pixabay

Google Maps is much more than a navigational tool, as it has plenty of features which make it somewhat equivalent to any popular social platform. Now a new Google Maps messaging feature is bringing it one more step closer to being a full social media platform.

A useful addition

Google is adding a new messaging feature to Maps to allow users to message local businesses without leaving the app. The messaging feature is now rolling out to both iOS and Android users.

The Google Maps messaging feature is an extension of Google’s real-time business-to-customer messaging service, which it debuted in a few countries last year. In 2017, Google introduced a feature that allowed users to message businesses via their Google profiles. Now the search giant has added the same feature to the Maps app.

Businesses  registered on Google’s real-time business-to-customer messaging service have a “Message” button on their Business Profiles on Google Search. Now the same functionality will be seen on the side menu in Google Maps as well.

“Now you’ll see your messages with the businesses you connect with via Business Profiles within the Google Maps app, where you’re already looking for things to do and places to go or shop,” Google said in a blog post.

The Google Maps messaging feature is a pretty useful addition, and it will come handy in many scenarios. For example, you may find it useful if you are on a bus and don’t want to call the bakery to confirm if your cake is ready or check with a shoe store to find out if it has your size in a pair of shoes you want.

How to use the Google Maps messaging feature

To use the Google Maps messaging feature, tap on the menu button and then select the “Messages” button. However, the Google Maps messaging feature will not be available for all businesses. It will only show for those which have enabled messages.

An easy way to see if a business has enabled messages is to check for the “Message” button on the business’ Google Profile page on Search. Businesses which don’t yet have the “Message” button but want to accept messages from customers can do so by installing the new Google My Business app.

Google also updated the Google My Business mobile app for both Android and iOS. The app allows businesses to check their reviews and messages, browse their followers, and create content for their business profile. The updated version of the app has a new Post button to add images and posts to Profiles; a Profile tab to review all information, including info, photos, and posts, in one place; a new Customers tab to connect with customers; a Followers tab to view the profiles of followers; and a Messaging tab to reply to queries.

The Google Maps messaging feature is not the only messaging service from the search giant in recent years. Google has introduced services like Allo and Hangouts in recent years. What’s good about the new messaging service in Google Maps is that users won’t have to install any extra apps to use it.

Making Maps more useful

Google Maps already offers traffic information for normal days, but now just in time for Thanksgiving, the search giant has come up with a report based on data from Google Maps detailing the busiest periods before and after the holiday. Along with traffic, the report also shows busy times at shopping centers and movie theaters based on traffic data from past years.

Google’s report confirms that between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesday tends to be the busiest time for shopping. Friday and Saturday afternoons are also not recommended. Based on the data, Google recommends trips in the morning hours. The company hopes such information will help users avoid traffic and lines and save more time to spend with loved ones.

Google has updated Maps with many useful features lately, like the ability to perform a quick search on a restaurant, share your estimated time of arrival with friends and family, “explore” businesses in your area, and more. Recently the search giant added a new “Follow” button to Maps to allow users to track businesses.

While making Maps more useful, these features are also aimed at overcoming growing competition from Facebook, which has emerged as a popular platform for businesses.