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As reported by VentureBeat this week, Google’s mobile mapping fronts the list of applications that have propelled Now, Google’s voice/personalization app, from obscurity to a shade better performance than deeply loved Siri on iOS. Now (not the voice app, but like, right now), Google is going hyperlocal with a new Explore button. So says Taj Campbell, Google Maps product manager, in a tip to VB.

Warning: Google Map users not running iOS or Android won’t see the button. Instead, legions of PC users running Windows have a Search Nearby button that is an empty search window waiting for a written prompt like “sports bar” or “thin crust pizza.” Oh, so last month.

Using a friend’s iPhone, I talked her into loading Google Maps. She looked for the new Explore button. She didn’t find an actual labeled button, but a new icon button instead. After searching for “Davis, California”, she then pressed the new icon. The result is oh, so this month.

VB also received enriched marketing descriptions and demo photos. “Starting this week, you can spend less time searching… and more time exploring…” That’s the chief pitch behind the Explore button.

“On vacation and want to know where the locals go? Looking for a new place to grab food on your lunch break? Waiting on the platform for your next train and wondering when it’s scheduled to arrive? Starting this week, you can spend less time searching for your answer and more time exploring the world with the Google Maps app for Android and iOS.”

Now, whenever you want to discover places in your area, simply tap the new Explore button at the bottom right corner of your map to get a quick look at what’s nearby (where available). With Explore as your guide, you’ll see different places and activities that adapt to each area and moment throughout your day. This also works when you’re browsing other neighborhoods and cities on the map, so you can plan your day’s outing or daydream about your next vacation.


The results you get in the Explore not only tell you what’s nearby — and you can decide if “nearby” means a five-minute walk or a 20-minute drive — 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. You’ll get best results when you’re signed in with location reporting and history turned on.

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you can get even more relevant information. If you’re using an Android device, tap on the My Location button at the bottom right or the blue dot on the map, and you can quickly access more info about your location such as restaurant reviews and transit schedules or simply save the place for later. Over time, your location experience will improve as you confirm the places you visit.

So next time you’re deciding where to brunch, or you want to check out your restaurant’s reviews while you wait for friends to arrive, Explore.

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