Google Maps revolutionises location search with conversational AI integration – HT Tech

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Google Maps is undergoing a transformation as generative AI takes centre stage, allowing users to engage in conversational searches for places. Leveraging its expansive large language models (LLMs), Google is tapping into the vast repository of information on over 250 million places within Google Maps, incorporating user-generated photos, ratings, and reviews from a staggering 300 million contributors. Check out the changes as Google Maps looks to transform location search.


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A User-Friendly “Ask About” Experience

Initially rolling out in the United States, this experimental feature introduces a user-friendly “Ask about” interface. For instance, inputting “places with a vintage vibe in SF” elicits a response encompassing vinyl record stores, clothing boutiques, and flea markets. Detailed location information and review summaries accentuate the appeal of each venue.

This novel feature preserves context, allowing users to seamlessly ask follow-up questions. For instance, a query like “how about lunch” prompts Maps to recommend old-school diners nearby that match the vintage vibe criteria.

Scenario-Specific Recommendations for Every Occasion

Convenience is elevated further as users can seek recommendations for specific scenarios. Asking for “activities for a rainy day” brings forth indoor options like comedy shows or movie theatres. Delving into family-friendly choices, a follow-up query such as “What about options for kids?” reveals places like bowling alleys, children’s museums, or indoor playgrounds, complete with highlights based on user reviews.

Google emphasises a cautious approach to implementation, initially granting access to this feature exclusively to its Local Guides community- dedicated contributors within the Google Maps ecosystem. This collaborative effort ensures a thoughtful integration of generative AI. Following this initial phase, the company plans to extend access to the broader user base.

The Local Guides, established in 2019, constitute a global community of explorers actively contributing to Google Maps through reviews, photos, answering queries, and fact-checking. While the extent of differentiation from traditional searches remains unclear, it is anticipated that the conversational style of responses will distinguish this AI-driven feature from the conventional proximity-based search results, offering users a more engaging and interactive exploration of their surroundings.

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