Over the past few months Google Maps has gone from great to really great. First we got in-app Uber hailing, then a parking availability feature that helped us plan ahead for places that don’t have dedicated spaces. And finally last week Google tweaked the interface to help us get directions even quicker.
But its newest feature may be the best one. Sort of a souped-up version of the Saved button, you can now create Yelp-style lists of your favorite places and restaurants, and easily organize them for future reference. For example, if you’re taking a trip to Seattle next month, you can create a list of all the hot spots you want to visit called Seattle's Best Eats and Seattle's Best Sights. Then, you need only tap Your places in the sidebar, then Saved to see your lists. Finally, select the list you want and all of the places you’ve saved will populate the map, letting you see which one’s closest and how many you'll be able to visit.
But the killer feature is sharing. Any list you create can be sent to your friends via text, email, or social network, so you can drop some foodie knowledge on people who are visiting or just send your buddy some suggestions on the coolest clubs you've found in Ibiza. Furthermore, as Google explains, you won't even need a connection to see them: “The lists you follow are with you wherever you take Google Maps and are viewable on mobile and desktop—and even offline. Next time you're on a trip, download offline maps of the area in advance and you'll be able to see all the places you’ve added to lists on the map itself.”
The update is rolling out to Android and iOS users this week, so you might have to wait a few days before you can use the new feature.
Points of interest: We don’t generally think of Maps as much more than an easy way to get from point A to point B, but Google is slowly but surely turning it into a one-stop app for all of our traveling needs. With this latest feature, Google is continuing its push to make Maps one of the most essential apps on our phone, and not just for directions. And by adding sharing to our lists, the navigation app could be taking the first step toward connecting people as well as places, as we explore faraway cities with a little help from friends who've been there.