Talking tech since 2003

Just yesterday we heard about the new and improved Foursquare, and how it would give users targeted recommendations based on where they are and what they liked. As it turns out, Google took yesterday as an opportunity to casually mention that, oh yeah, Google Maps will do pretty much the same thing now too.

Maps has a new “Explore” button that will offer a list of your surrounding area and give you recommendations based on user ratings, proximity (depending on if you’re walking, biking, bussing, or driving), and category. So if you want to find a park that’s within a ten minute walk, or a place to get a bite to eat after a short drive, Explore will hook you up.

Google Maps Product Manager Taj Campbell also explains that its recommendations will also change depending on contextual conditions:

“The results you get in Explore not only tell you what’s nearby […] but they actually change based on context like the time of day and the weather, too. So don’t worry about wandering over to a breakfast spot for dinner, or arriving at the park just in time for a thunderstorm.”

maps-explore-check-inYou’ll also have the choice to choose what time you check things out, so if you know you’ll be downtown later that evening, all you have to do is search in that area and change the dropdown menu to see what’s happening at that time of day. Explore sounds like a pretty nifty new feature that I can’t wait to try out.

Campbell also says that once you arrive, you can hit “My Location” and get more information about where you’ve just landed, like “restaurant reviews and transit schedules.” In short, when you hit “My Location,” you’re basically “checking in,” a la Foursquare. “Over time,” writes Campbell, “your location experience will improve as you confirm the places you visit.”

One area where this new feature differs from the new Foursquare is that the latter will give recommendations based on your specified tastes and preferences. Google Maps’ Explore, on the other hand, seems like it’ll make recommendations based more on your search and location history, combined with user ratings.

Which will be the better app for discovering new places? To reveal my bias, I’m probably going to go with Google Maps, but that’s mostly because I already have it on my phone, and I know the interface pretty well. That said, I’m still planning on trying the new version of Foursquare when that officially launches in a few weeks.

[Google Maps Explore]

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