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.