Google Maps has always helped navigate you to a nearby restaurant, but with a new feature launched today, Maps will help you navigate that restaurant’s menu by surfacing its most popular dishes.
The popular dishes feature uses machine learning to parse through photos and reviews of dishes posted by Google Maps users and identify a restaurant’s most popular meals. The new feature is available now on Android with an iOS version to follow later. From a Google blog post announcing the service:
Simply pull up a restaurant on Google Maps to find its popular dishes in the overview tab. Feeling extra peckish? Dive into the menu tab to scroll through all the most-talked about meals, and tap on a popular dish to explore reviews and photos. In a country where you can’t read the language? Maps will also translate the reviews for you too.
Google has certainly been interested in feeding you lately. Last week, the company announced a feature that allows Google Maps, Search and Assistant users to order food for delivery directly through those apps. Earlier this month, the company revealed a new Google Lens feature that let users point their phone cameras at a menu to bring up pictures of popular meals. And there’s also, Google Duplex the human-sounding AI assistant that can make restaurant reservations for you.
It’s not hard to connect the dots to see where all this is going. Knowing what restaurants are nearby, what type of cuisine they serve and what their most popular dishes are creates the foundation for an even more powerful AI assistant. Why should Duplex stop at making restaurant reservations when it could also order your food for home delivery? While this is useful on your phone, having this kind of functionality on a Google Smart Hub smart screen would be equally powerful for families ordering dinner. Google can recommend the restaurant, suggest dishes and then automatically have it delivered to your door.
Getting your purchase history and surrounding data (when you ordered, etc.) would provide Google even more data to power its algorithms, and the company is pretty upfront about wanting that data. From the Popular Dishes blog post today:
At the end of the day, this feature is made possible because of contributions from people around the world who want to help others using Google Maps. So if you want to pay it forward to the next dinner, simply take a photo of your meal (before you’ve scarfed it down!) and add a dish name so others can know what’s good on the menu.
Of course, in a world where we freely hand over so much information about ourselves, at some point you have to ask: who, exactly, is being served?