We’ve been talking a lot recently, about big updates coming to Google Maps. We’ve seen lots of cool new features like a special mode for using Google Assistant while you’re navigating and a new feature for reporting traffic accidents and incidents. The other big news for Google’s flagship mapping app has been its pivot towards becoming a business directory to help users find businesses in their local area. There has been the addition of Instagram-style hashtags to reviews, making it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for, and Google has also promised us that Maps will soon have a messages tab. The new messages feature is now rolling out.
The Google Maps Messages tab will help you contact businesses
We covered a lot about the functionality of the new Messages tab when we first reported on it back in November. The new Message button will show on the business overview tab of any business that has registered for the service with Google Maps. You’ll also be able to find all of your chats in the new Messages button found in the main settings sidebar of the app. The key, however, is that this new Messages button won’t enable you to spark up conversations with your friends, it is only for talking to businesses.
If this all sounds like something you’d be interested in using, then you’ll be happy to hear that users on social media have started to see the new feature land on their app. Over on Reddit, the response to the new feature seems positive, too. Now, if you need to ask a question about opening times, specific food allergies, or whatever you can just open up a chat bubble and ask away. At the very least, the new Messages feature looks set to remove the need to ask questions in reviews.
This move is not an attempt by Google to muscle in on social messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, or Snapchat. Not yet, anyway. There is nothing to say Google won’t extend the feature to all of a user’s Google contacts in the future, but at the moment there is no evidence to suggest that is the plan.
What this is though, is an attempt to move into a growing marketplace. Facebook’s Messenger app has long been trying to become the app for everything, with business messages forming a huge part of those efforts. Instagram also offers a great way for businesses and customers to contact each other and WhatsApp has recently launched WhatsApp Business, which will charge business users for contacting their customers using WhatsApp. It could be a crowded marketplace that Google is moving into, but with so many people using the app to find places already, Maps could be about to become the internet’s number one business directory.