Google Maps makes reviews more useful with hashtag support

Hardly a day seems to go by without Google rolling out yet another feature for its Maps app, some more useful than others.

The latest one to land is hashtag support for reviews. That’s right, Google Maps has followed in the footsteps of your favorite social media apps by letting you add hashtags to reviews of local businesses, and enabling readers to tap on them to find out more about a particular topic.

So, if you’re looking at restaurant reviews, for example, you might start seeing hashtags like #greatview or #bestburger, or for bars, others such as #cheapdrinks or #celebrityspotting.

Google confirmed the launch of hashtag support to TechCrunch, revealing that it quietly launched the feature for Android last week. It’s not clear how long it’s going to take for it to appear on iOS and the web, though.

How useful hashtags turn out to be depends entirely on how Maps users incorporate them into their reviews. Google recommends including as many as five relevant hashtags at the end of a review so that the main text is easier to read. It’s also possible to go back over old reviews and add hashtags where appropriate, should you have the time and inclination.

As it’s the kind of feature that relies on users to make it work, it’s likely to be some time before the hashtags start showing up in any great numbers, but over time this has the potential to make Maps even more useful.

Google is turning evermore to social media apps in the search for new features for Maps. Besides hashtags, it also recently added the ability to follow your favorite establishments so you can receive news of upcoming events and special offers. And just last week it rolled out a new messaging feature that offers another way for you to contact businesses listed on the app — so long as they opt in to it. Google describes messaging on Maps as a way to help establishments “stay in touch with their customers in real time and on the go.”

Other features added recently to Google Maps include the ability to report crashes and speed traps so the app can plan more efficient routes for other drivers in the area, and group polling as a way for friends to choose a place to eat.

Product Review

Meet Z6, the breakout star in Nikon's new mirrorless lineup

The Nikon Z6 is the sibling to the new mirrorless Z7 -- but for some photographers, the cheaper Z6 may be the better option. Read where the $2,000 camera beats the $3,400 one (and where it doesn’t) in our Nikon Z6 review.
Outdoors

Google Maps makes it easier than ever to find a Lime bike or scooter

Google Maps has added a new feature that helps you find a Lime bike or scooter in just a few taps. The feature currently works in 11 U.S. cities served by Lime, with more coming next year.
Outdoors

Crush your next workout with the best Fitbit for every activity

Fitbits are amazingly helpful tools for setting fitness goals and tracking progress. However, different activities require different metrics. We've gathered a list of the best Fitbits for running, swimming, biking, and other activities.
Mobile

Ditch your smartphone for a year and win $100k from Vitaminwater

Vitaminwater is willing to part with $100,000 if you're willing to part with your smartphone partner for a year. Could you last for a year armed with only a 1996-era phone? Here's your chance to find out.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Deals

Walmart drops prices on Apple Watches and other fitness trackers

Smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wearable heart rate monitors from Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin are popular gifts. Wearables are smarter and more capable than in earlier years. We found the best wearables deals on Walmart.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Wearables

The best Wear OS watches

There are a ton of different Wear OS watches out there, but which one's right for you? No matter what you're looking for from a smartwatch, here are the best Wear OS watches out there.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.
Mobile

How to switch from iPhone to Android: The ultimate guide

If you've decided to bridge the great tech divide and leave Apple's walled garden for the unknown shores of Android, then you'll find all the tips and advice you need to begin switching from an iPhone to an Android device.
Smart Home

This device detects when your pet is at the door and opens it for them

Tired of waiting for your dog to come inside, or running home in the middle of the day to let your four-legged friend out? Wayzn automatically opens sliding doors for your dog and gives you remote control.
Mobile

Apple pushing update to iPhone in China in response to legal troubles

Apple has been facing legal issues in China due to alleged infringements of patents from Qualcomm Inc. On Friday, Apple announced it will push a software update in China in hopes of resolving any potential legal issues around the iPhone.
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!