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Love eating out? Google Maps offers a new way to find a menu’s popular dishes

If you’re the type of restaurant diner that likes to snap a picture of every single dish that lands in front of you, then Google Maps would be really happy if you uploaded those photos to its site.

The web giant is using the content to build a new feature that helps you and your fellow diners find the top dishes at any given restaurant.

Announced this week for Android and coming soon to iOS, the new “popular dishes” feature uses artificial intelligence to match up photos, reviews, and ratings to help hungry diners build a clearer picture about an eatery’s offerings before they visit — or while they’re at the table trying to make a decision.

“Whether you’re craving a tea cocktail in Brooklyn or sampling Pacific Rim cuisine in London, Google Maps now highlights a restaurant’s most popular items on the menu, so you can place your order with confidence,” Google’s Ronnie Falcon wrote in a blog post.

To make use of the feature, search for a restaurant you’re interested in, and in the Overview tab scroll down until you see the Popular Dishes section populated with a range of photos. A Show More button will take you to additional menu items that have received good reviews from other diners.

Alternatively, tap on the Menu tab to see specific dishes offered by the restaurant, and then tap on the nested Popular tab to see photos, reviews, and ratings for dishes favored by diners.

As it’s powered by A.I., the accuracy of the feature will improve over time as more people add content to Maps. Of course, this also means that not all restaurants will yet have enough information for Maps to work out the most popular dishes, but with everyone’s participation, that’s certain to change over time. To further improve the accuracy of Maps’ suggestions, Google requests that you add the name of the dish to a photo when you upload it.

Oh, and it also notes that if you’re overseas and can’t understand the reviews, Maps will use Google’s constantly improving translation smarts to change it into something that makes sense.

The new feature comes just a couple of days after Google launched another cool tool for diners. Powered by its clever image-recognition Google Lens app, the update means you can now point your smartphone camera at a restaurant menu and it will automatically overlay highlights indicating the most popular dishes, and offer reviews and ratings, too. And if you’re out with friends, point your camera at the receipt and the app will even calculate your share of the bill.

But Google’s efforts to get you to stuff your face don’t end there, as it recently added another new feature for Maps, Search, and Assistant that makes it a whole lot easier to order meal deliveries when you perform a search for a particular type of cuisine. The updates are the latest push by the company to keep you in its ecosystem for longer, offering you greater convenience while giving it the chance to gather more data and serve up more ads.

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Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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