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Google Maps for iOS now offers real-time info on how crowded a place is

Why it matters to you

Armed with more accurate date like this, you can decide if a place is still worth visiting or if you should search for a less crowded location instead.

Google Maps has been offering information on customer numbers at places like coffee shops and restaurants since 2015, though the obvious drawback was that it didn’t account for things like special events.

The company fixed that for the web version of the software last November, adding real-time data so you could discover with greater accuracy if you were likely to get a seat straight away or would have to stand in line for a while, in which case you could seek out a different place.

The good news is that an update rolled out for the iOS app this week brings the same real-time functionality to the iPhone, a small but welcome tweak that makes the software even more useful.

Google makes use of anonymized data from people’s smartphones to work out how crowded a particular business is, and then pushes it to the app so potential visitors can check ahead to work out the best time to go. When real-time data for a searched premises is available, you’ll see a “Live” badge just above the bar chart when you scroll down, followed by a description such as “not busy.”

The new feature means you’ll be able to see when a one-off event is taking place at the location you’re researching, giving you more confidence when it comes to choosing a place to visit. Of course, the app continues to provide general information on busy times throughout the week based on data gathered over a long period of time, but the “live” feature takes the software up a notch.

As before, you can also see the average amount of time a customer spends at the location you’re checking out, offering some potentially useful information on general customer flow.

More: Google Maps may soon show you the best places to park

Version 4.27 of Google Maps, released on Thursday, also lets you quickly access addresses in your clipboard while searching.

You can grab the update from the App Store here, or by hitting the App Store on your iPhone and tapping on the Updates tab bottom left.