Google Maps has been steadily rolling out new features to make its app more than just a way to find places and navigate to them. In recent months, it’s added things like group trip planning, music controls, commuter tools, ETA sharing, personalized recommendations, and more. Now, it’s introducing a new way for users to follow their favorite businesses, as well – like restaurants, bars, or stores, for example – in order to stay on top of their news and updates.
If that sounds a lot like Google Maps’ own version of Facebook Pages, you’re right.
Explains the company, once you tap the new “follow” to track a business, you’ll then be able to see news from those places like their upcoming events, their offers, and other updates right in the “For You” tab on Google Maps.
Events, deals and photo-filled posts designed to encourage foot traffic? That definitely sounds like a Facebook Page competitor aimed at the brick-and-mortar crowd.
Businesses can also use the Google Maps platform to start reaching potential customers before they open to the public, Google notes.
After building a Business Profile using Google My Business which includes their opening date, the business will then be surfaced in users’ searches on mobile web and in the app, up to three months before their opening.
This profile will display the opening date in orange just below the business name, and users can save the business to one of their lists, if they choose. Users can also view all the other usual business information, like address, phone, website and photos.
The new “follow” feature will be accessible to the over 150 million places already on Google Maps, as well as the millions of users who are seeking them out.
The feature has been spotted in the wild for some time before Google’s official announcement this week, and is rolling out over the next few weeks, initially on Android.
The “For You” tab is currently available in limited markets, with more countries coming soon, says Google.