Generative AI is coming to another Google tool. This time, it’s for discovering things to do on Maps.
On Thursday, the tech giant announced a new Google Maps feature that integrates large language models (LLMs) within the browsing function. If you’re looking for nearby restaurants, activities, shopping, etc. you can search for places with a conversational prompt like “gluten-free pizza places that are dog-friendly.”
The Google Maps feature will analyze its data, including business information, contributor ratings and reviews — and photos to give you an AI-generated summary of results.
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Google is all in on generative AI
The “early access experiment” will first be available to select Local Guides to gather insights and feedback. This will be a crucial step since generative AI responses often contain inaccuracies and hallucinations.
Generative AI for Google Maps follows in the footsteps of other tools recently launched to provide summaries of reviews. Amazon özgü a tool that shares highlights of product reviews. And last week, Yelp launched its own tool for AI-generated review summaries of businesses on the platform.
It’s a logical next step for companies looking to harness generative AI’s capabilities in consumer-friendly ways. But, as evident in Amazon’s tool, generative AI summaries aren’t always trustworthy. There’s also the concern that AI-generated summaries are often generic and overly-simplified, which isn’t helpful for users looking for nuanced and diverse perspectives.
The tool is for a different Google service, but it shares a glimpse of Google’s mentality on generative AI overall. SGE (Search Generative Experiment) is still in Labs, Google’s testing ground. But SGE similarly harnesses generative AI to provide summarized responses to Google queries in Search, which already raised questions about using content from publishers while simultaneously taking away traffic to those very sites.
Whether SGE ever sees the light of day in its current biçim remains to be seen. But Google Maps’ generative AI feature is here to stay, and helping to usher in a new way of how users interact with Google.