Google Maps now identifies the menu items in restaurant food photos

Viewing Google Maps on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4's smaller cover screen
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Version 11.112.0102 of the Google Maps app for Android can name the food items present in customer photos. 
  • The named menu items appear in the photos tab of a restaurant card in Google Maps. 
  • Google says that the features works by analyzing aggregated data from users and businesses.

Google Maps is a useful way to find out whether a place or restaurant is worth going to, since the app integrates with Google Reviews. This allows users to post reviews, photos, and videos related to a restaurant right inside the same Google Maps app that others will use to find nearby dining options. As such, these reviews could hold a lot of weight in swaying people either to or from potential restaurant. 

But a common problem with sifting through Google Maps photos for restaurants is not knowing the name of a good or bad dish pictured. Photos uploaded by the restaurant usually have labels, but a lot of the time, users will neglect to include a description for their images. Now, the Google Maps app for Android will automatically detect which menu items are pictured in customer photos for restaurants, as first discovered by 9to5Google

After finding a restaurant in Google Maps and navigating to the Photos tab, start swiping through the images. If Google can match the food in a photo to an item on the restaurant's menu, the name of it will appear below the image. Food items might also be identified with tags, such as Popular or Vegetarian. If the price is available, Google can show that in the description, too. 

The name of items pictured in food photos in Google Maps.

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

Google explains how the feature works in a few sentences. "Dish information is collected from Google users and businesses," the explanation reads. "Google analyzes the aggregated data, but doesn't verify every attribute."

Instead, users can correct potential mistakes in identifying food items in the Google Maps app. There's a Suggest an edit button that will let users pick one of four options to correct a dish name: edit dish name, incorrect dish name, offensive dish name, or dish not served here.

If the dish in the photo is correctly identified, another button will take the user to the section of the menu where the item is found. This could provide more information about ingredients and pricing, if the latter is not already listed in the card. 

The feature presumable collects data from user descriptions, photos, and menus to identify the foods in customer images. Google's explanation says that both user and business data is factored in, but it doesn't shed light on what kinds of object detection or text recognition might be used to name the dishes. 

Not every restaurant, nor every specific menu item, will work with this Google Maps identification feature. It appears to be rolling out now, as both 9to5Google and Android Police were able to find the descriptions on multiple Android phones. However, we tried to use the feature on a few Android devices running Google Maps version 11.112.0102, and it wasn't available yet.

Brady Snyder

Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.