If you’re in a new city, it can be tough to separate the hidden gems from the tourist traps. The likes of Yelp and TripAdvisor can definitely help, but then you’re left trying to figure out which reviews to trust, and which are too good to be true.
The same problem is inherent in Google Maps, too, of course. And perhaps that’s why the company is trialing a new feature: “Local Guides”. The idea is a simple one: Google has picked out a bunch of trusted reviewers who seem to know their city inside out, and given them prime billing to recommend the sights and sounds to visitors right there in Google Maps.
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“If you’re in Bangalore, Melvin John is a Local Guide whose reviews and recommendations will guide you through the city’s microbrewery scene,” explained Austin Wells the Google Maps product manager, in a post announcing the test. “And if you’ve used Google Maps in Tokyo, Ayaka Ohkawa’s popular photography has probably helped you explore the city’s landmarks, cuisine and culture.”
While Google says that it has an active community of 120 million Local Guides in 24,000 cities, initially this trial will be considerably smaller, appearing in the Maps app for just nine locations. These are: Bangkok, Delhi, London, Mexico City, New York, Osaka, San Francisco, São Paulo and Tokyo.
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If you tap “follow” on one of the chosen Local Guides, you’ll start to see their recommendations appearing both in the “For You” tab, and on the map view itself. From the looks of it, there will be multiple people for each city, so you’ll be able to find someone whose tastes seem to match yours through a bit of trial and error.
No word on when exactly this new feature will be launching, but Google does say it should be “soon.” So keep an eye on Google Maps if you live in one of the lucky cities.