Three Google Map updates to help you prep for your next vacation

A view of Chicago on Google Maps running on a ThinkPhone by Motorola
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has announced three updates to Google Maps that promise to make planning your next trip easier than ever.
  • These introduce three major new features – curated recommendations, customized lists, and AI that can help you on the go.
  • The updates will start rolling out over the next few weeks.

When you’re planning a vacation, deciding where to stay, what to eat, and which sites to see can be hard work. And while guidebooks can be incredibly helpful, they aren’t always up to date with the latest information. Google Maps is already the most popular navigation app that helps people find their way. Today, Google has announced three updates to Maps that promise to make planning where to go a lot easier.

When visiting a new destination, it’s normal to look for recommendations from other travelers or locals to help decide what to do. The first Maps update promises to make this easier by providing curated lists of recommendations “from people who know the city well.” In addition, Maps will give you lists from well-respected expert sites, such as Lonely Planet and OpenTable. 

This update will roll out in the US and Canada this week, providing lists for more than 40 cities in these two countries. If you’re visiting any of those cities, you can search for it in Maps and swipe up to see the list of recommendations.

There are also three types of curated restaurant lists being prepped: The “Trending” list, which includes “places that have recently seen a spike in popularity on Maps.” The 'top' list identifies places that are consistently popular with the Maps community. Finally, the 'gems' list helps you find great restaurants that perhaps aren’t as well known. 

Screenshots of recommendations, customised lists and AI updates

(Image credit: Google)

Another Maps update allows users to create lists by tapping the new list button under the saved tab. This will allow users to compile a list of places they want to go and places they’ve been. 

Users can then move destinations up and down on their list to rank them. According to Google, “you can choose the order places to appear in your lists to make them even more useful. So if you’re planning a trip and compiling recommendations, you can organize them chronologically — like an itinerary.” You’ll also be able to link your lists to content from your social media. This update is due to roll out globally later this month on Android and iOS.

Finally, Google is bringing AI to Maps to help users with real-time decision-making. This appears to be an advancement on an update from February, which introduced generative AI to select Local Guides. 

According to Google: “When you’re checking out a restaurant and scrolling through photos of the food, we’ll use AI to help you identify what a dish is called (perfect if you’re in a new city and not familiar with the cuisine), and show you helpful information based on the menu — like what it costs, if it’s popular, and even if it’s vegetarian or vegan.” You’ll also receive reviews to help you decide if it’s the right place for you. This builds on Maps’ ability to identify menu items based on restaurant food photos, which was spotted in January.

Google Maps is also planning a design refresh over the coming months. This includes reducing the number of home screen tabs and new pin colors that help you find places on the map more easily. Having recently rolled out a redesign for the Maps UI, Google is working hard to make Maps as helpful and user-friendly as possible.  

Steven Shaw

Steven Shaw is a full-time freelancer, but before he changed his career at the start of 2021, he was in the retail industry, leading teams to achieve goals in selling technology products, such as smartphones, tablets, and more. Graduating from the University of Cambridge with a Masters in Medieval History, he's always had a passion for the topic, alongside technology and many Simpsons quotes.