Google Maps adds a new tab showing restaurants’ most popular dishes

While some restaurateurs dislike diners’ habit of pulling out their smartphones to photograph every dish that lands on their table, others see it as a valuable way of scoring free promotion when the snaps land on social media.

Apps such as Google Maps also include photos taken by diners, but for those interested in particular dishes, it can sometimes be hard to match the image with a particular item on the menu.

A new feature being tested by the web giant aims to change all that, making it easier for food fans to order the precise meal they’ve been drooling over after spotting it in the Google Maps listing.

Highlighted by a number of users on social media and reported by 9to5Google, the feature has been added to Google Maps’ Menu tab, which itself is showing up for an increasing number of restaurants listed by the app.

As you’d expect, the Menu tab offers information on available dishes, but doesn’t include photos of those dishes. Some listings also include nested tabs for things like Appetizers, Entrees, Mains, and so on.

The new nested tab being tested by Google offers a look at Popular meals at a restaurant using information pulled from text and images added by users on visits to the eatery.

It’s not clear at this stage if the feature is powered by Google’s machine-learning smarts — it certainly has a track record when it comes to image-recognition technology — or if there’s a team of humans working in the background to ensure accuracy; possibly a bit of both. Either way, the posts include a way to suggest edits in case you spot a glaring error while browsing the available dining options.

The Popular tab seems like a neat addition to Maps, and should ease the frustration occasionally experienced when trying to match a picture of a tasty-looking dish in the Photos tab with an item on the menu, although in such a situation a restaurant staff member should be able to solve any conundrum.

It appears to be in a trial phase at this stage, but be sure to look out for it next time you’re checking out a new restaurant on Google Maps.

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