Google Maps update will make it easier to find a place to eat — here’s how

The Google Maps logo on an iPhone screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’re in a new place and looking for a bite to eat, odds are you’ve gone to Google Maps to see if there’s anything good close by. Not only does the app let you see reviews for local eateries, users can also upload photos of what they had. Unfortunately, if you seems something that looks appetizing, there’s no label to confirm what you’re looking at.

Well there never used to be, but that’s starting to change. As spotted by 9to5Google, Google Maps is starting to pair user photos with different items on a restaurant’s menu. Descriptions vary, but it looks like it should at least tell you what’s in the picture. 

Extra information that may be available includes pricing, labels like vegetarian, and more elaborate descriptions of what’s on show. Plus there’s an option to jump straight to the menu, so you can find out more about what the restaurant has in store.

9to5Google notes that these appear to be automatically generated, relying on a mix of object recognition and user captions to label each picture. However Google points out that none of the information is actually verified by Google, and these sorts of systems are known to get things wrong. 

That’s presumably why there’s an option to suggest edits to the Google systems. This includes suggesting edits to existing information, marking what’s there as incorrect, noting offensive dish names or that the dish in question isn’t actually on the menu.

The downside right now is that few restaurants actually have this feature on offer. And those that do won’t have auto-generated labels on all the pictures of food. In fact, even using the latest version of Google Maps on Android and iOS, we weren’t able to find a single restaurant with these new auto-generated food captions.

So it may be some time before this rolls out to you. But when it does, it should making deciding where to eat and what you’re going to have a little easier. At the very least making sure you know what to expect when your plate arrives. 

This is just one of many new features Google Maps has been adding to improve its services over the past several weeks. That includes Bluetooth beacon support, to track drivers inside tunnels, adding 3D buildings to the interface during navigation, and giving you more control over your location history. Here’s hoping Google keeps this kind of pace up, especially with increased competition from the likes of Apple Maps.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.