Skip to main content

Google Maps is adding new shopping tools for the holiday season

Google has announced several new features in Google Maps to keep you sane this holiday season by helping you avoid crowds, find your way around the malls, and even get your holiday dinner shopping done.

First off, Google is expanding its crowdedness data features for public transit and specific stores into a broader tool that it’s calling “Area Busyness.” This will show you how many folks are gathering in a specific neighborhood, rather than an individual store. As Google explains, you can use this information however you like, whether you want to steer clear of the crowds or seek out the hottest spots in town.

Google Maps Area Busyness.

Google is also expanding its Directory tab globally, so you’ll be able to get detailed information on what’sgoing on inside many more airports, malls, and transit stations around the world. This includes what types of stores are in a given building, including their locations and hours of operation, along with the availability of car rental services, airport lounges, parking lots, and more.

For folks in the U.S. planning their holiday feast, Google Maps is also expanding its grocery store pickup service to over 2,000 Kroger, Fry’s, Ralphs, and Mariano’s stores across 30 states. You’ll be able to place your order online, track its status, share your ETA, and let the store know you’ve arrived — all without ever leaving Google Maps. The search giant also says that people who use the Google Maps grocery pickup service typically wait less than five minutes to fetch their groceries.

Google Maps Grocery Pickup.

If a night out on the town is more your style, Google Maps also has you covered here, with expanded details in the reviews for U.S. dining spots. Restaurants and cafes will begin showing price ranges, so you can easily find a location to fit your budget. Google is also making it easier for other visitors to share details like availability of outdoor seating, delivery options, and curbside pickup.

Starting today, the global directory tab and grocery pickup services are available on Google Maps for Android and iOS. Expanded restaurant reviews and Area Busyness will be rolling out over the next few weeks, just in time for the holiday season.

Jesse Hollington
Jesse has been a technology enthusiast for his entire life — he probably would have been born with an iPhone in his hand…
Google’s Gemini AI app gets a wider release. Is your phone on the list?
Google Gemini app on Android.

More people can now use and enjoy the Google Gemini AI app on their smartphone, as the company has expanded the list of regions where the Android version of the app is available through the Google Play Store. Specifically, it has launched the Android app in the U.K. and Europe, opening the service up far beyond its start in the U.S., where it was released in February.

What’s more, Google says Gemini will soon be available to iPhone owners, as the AI chatbot will appear on iOS in the next few weeks. It won’t be a standalone app though, as Gemini will instead work through the official Google app that can be downloaded now through the Apple App Store.

Read more
Google is making it easier to ditch your iPhone for an Android phone
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro in hand.

Switching phones is never a smooth process, even if you’re switching between two different Android phones. However, when you’re trying to switch from an iPhone to Android or vice versa, it can be extra complicated -- and you can lose data and apps that you rely on. This is especially the case with Apple-to-Android transfers because the iPhone has a much stronger ecosystem lock-in with things like iMessage, iCloud backups, and exclusive apps like Overcast and Hyperlapse.

The good news is that with its Data Transfer Tool (also called Pixel Migrate on Pixel devices), Google may be trying to mitigate some of the phone-switching problems that arise -- specifically, losing access to your Live Photos. According to an APK teardown from Android Authority, Google’s Data Transfer Tool will finally resolve the problem of migrating iOS Live Photos to Android. It will do this by converting them over as Motion Photos.

Read more
The iPhone’s new AI features may come with a gigantic catch
An iPhone 15 Pro Max laying face-down outside, showing the Natural Titanium color.

Imagine paying a minimum of $999 for a new iPhone 14 Pro in 2022, only to discover that it can’t run the full iOS 18 experience in less than two years. It might sound dystopian, especially for a product known for its long shelf life that's largely the result of an industry-leading software update policy at Apple.

Yet, it seems that nightmarish surprise will be here in just over a week. Bloomberg recently reported on some crucial AI-driven features coming to iOS 18, with Siri being one of the main recipients of all that innovation. But iPhone users might have to pay a pretty price for it all.

Read more