At Google’s annual Search On conference last September, the company announced seven new features and updates to local search. These updates will significantly improve the way users can explore neighborhoods, businesses, and restaurants on Google Search.
Local search changes coming soon include:
- Search restaurants by dish
- Discover the restaurant’s specialties
- More support for digital menus
- Improvements in the Live View of Google Maps
- Aerial views of famous places
- Immersive view
- Neighborhood Environment Controls
Let’s take a closer look at each update below.
Search restaurants by dish
Google is upgrading its restaurant search capabilities with the ability to find locations serving a specific dish. The new search experience will let you perform a query like “meatball soup near me,” and Google will give you a list of restaurants that offer it.
In fact, you can get even more specific with filters for vegetarian dishes, spicy dishes, and more.
Discover the restaurant’s specialties
Local restaurants usually stand out for a unique quality that makes them known in the community. Identifying that quality in a Google search can be quite difficult, and star ratings don’t always tell the whole story.
Coming soon, thanks to machine learning, Google will help search engines preview and rate restaurants to better understand what makes them unique. For example, below is an example of a local restaurant listing with “people say” highlighted at the top of the screen.
Google will use machine learning to analyze images and reviews to find what makes a place distinctive.
More support for digital menus
Google will expand its coverage of digital menus while enhancing them with rich images and reliably keeping them up to date.
The goal is that more digital menus can be added without requiring any additional work from restaurant owners. For this Google explains that: “We combine the menu information provided by people and merchants, and that found on restaurant websites that use open standards to share data. To do this, we use state-of-the-art image and language understanding technologies, including our Unified Multitasking Model.”
Google has added that it will show the most popular dishes and mention different dietary options, including vegetarian and vegan.
Improvements in the Live View of Google Maps
Google will update the Live View feature of Google Maps, introduced three years ago, which allows you to navigate directions while looking through the viewfinder of your phone’s camera. This way, in addition to navigating from one site to another, you can search for things in your immediate vicinity. In the example you can see the use of Live View to find an ATM a short distance from where a person is:
Search with Live View will begin rolling out in the coming months in London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Paris and Tokyo.
Aerial views of famous places
Option now available, Google offers more than 250 photorealistic aerial views of world landmarks. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t list all of the landmarks with aerial views, simply stating that they “cover everything from Tokyo Tower to the Acropolis.”
The immersive view will allow you to go beyond the street view with an experience that will take you inside buildings and other establishments. Also, the immersive view will show you how busy a place will be and what the weather will be like on a given date and time.
Immersive View will launch over the next few months in Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo for Android and iOS.
Neighborhood Environment Controls
Using a combination of artificial intelligence and user-submitted information, Google Maps’ new “neighborhood mood” feature will give you an idea of what a neighborhood is like before you visit it. Google will highlight what’s new, local gems, and what’s worth exploring. Plus, helpful photos and information from the Google Maps community will appear on the map as you navigate through the neighborhood.