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Google Maps is getting a generative AI boost. Here's what that will look like

Google Maps users will be able to easily find new places by using generative AI.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Google Maps gets generative AI
Google/ZDNET

Some Google products have already been elevated to support the one technology in everyone's minds and lips right now: Generative AI. Now, the company is adding a new capability to its Google Maps, letting users "chat" with Google Maps and get more nuanced responses and suggestions over a generic search result.

Google Maps is already the most popular app among navigation companions, with over 67% of mapping users choosing Google Maps over other apps; it already has over one billion users as of late 2023. The new generative AI feature could boost that popularity even more.

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"Let's say you're visiting San Francisco and want to plan a few hours of thrifting for unique vintage finds," said Miriam Daniel, vice president and general manager at Google Maps, in a blog post. "Just ask Maps what you're looking for, like 'places with a vintage vibe in SF.' Our AI models will analyze Maps' rich information about nearby businesses and places along with photos, ratings, and reviews from the Maps community to give you trustworthy suggestions."

Results using generative AI will be organized into categories. For example, in Daniel's scenario above, they may appear sorted into clothing stores, vinyl shops, and flea markets. These results will be accompanied by photo carousels and AI-generated review summaries highlighting key features of why a place may fit your intentions.

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Users can also ask Google Maps follow-up questions for more complete searches, as if they are chatting with ChatGPT, for example. 

"Maybe you also want to grab a bite to eat somewhere that keeps those vintage vibes going. Continue the conversation with a follow-up question like "How about lunch?" added Daniel. "Maps will suggest places that match the vintage vibe you're looking for, like an old-school diner nearby."

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This generative AI feature in Google Maps is powered by its large-language models (LLM), which can generate text and suggestions from over 250 million saved places and reviews from over 300 million contributors. It's launching this week as an early access experiment to select Local Guides, with plans to roll out the feature generally over time. 

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