Search giant Google has recently introduced a new feature that will inform users whether or not the shop, bar or other amenity they are searching for is busy in real time.
The company has added a new extension to its Popular Times feature, which was added to both Google Maps and Google Search in July 2015, giving users an upgraded live feed of how busy a searched venue is at certain times.
The feature uses live data to show how busy a certain venue is before you set off, and its introduction has come just in time for the shopping rushes of Black Friday and Christmas.
The feature shows a ‘Live’ tag, and Google Maps displays a red bar overlay over the top of historic busy period data in the form a blue bar chart allowing users to decipher whether or not the location is busy or quiet at the time of the search.
We have used an example of ‘Aldi Ellesmere Port’ to showcase this new feature, which is located underneath the shop details section towards the top. At the time of the search, around 4:00pm on a Wednesday afternoon, Google says that the store is “a little busy”. Furthermore, it even lets the user know how long the average shopper spends at the location, with the example here saying that users typically spend 25 minutes in the store.
Google’s new feature uses a combination of Google searches and anonymised location data sourced from other Google users in order to analyse how busy that particular location is at any moment. Although a predicted busy time taken from historical data generally comes in handy, at times when sales or other variables such as transport come into play, these locations may see an increased flow of people at times that are usually quiet.
As it is approaching the festive season and users could utilise the tool to plan their shopping trips, it is also useful for checking out other locations, such as when a bar is set to be busy and atmospheric, or when the cinema will be packed.
Google Maps already gives users live traffic information and public transport data to help users to get the best out of their travels, and now the introduction of this latest feature can also help users to plan out their shopping trips, pub crawls and cinema trips to help them avoid congested areas and big queues during the festive season.