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Google Maps has three new ways to obtain user-sourced updates

We’ve said it before and we don’t mind saying it again; Google Maps might be the most interesting app offered by the tech giant. And my has it matured over the years. Remember when the app merely helped you navigate from point “A to point “B?” Then turn-by-turn directions were added and Google soon let the app become the place to look for hotels, restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and places of interest in various cities.

Google Maps now has 150 million Local Guides who are needed now more than ever before

Google adds new features to Google Maps quite often and is now relying more and more on users to contribute information to the app. Anyone with a Google Account can add their knowledge about 200 million local locations in Google Maps. And it is the group of Google Local Guides who contribute information on a local basis to the app; there are now 150 million Local Guides around the world.

Google is looking to update 100,000 businesses over the next month and explains how you can contribute to what Google is calling the “Local Love Challenge.” Google says, “For the next month, most people using Android in the U.S. can join our first nationwide challenge to rally helpful reviews, photos and updates from sea to shining sea. Simply jump into the Contribute tab in Google Maps to join the “Local Love challenge” and add ratings, reviews and confirm information to support local businesses you’ve visited, from your go-to bakery to the neighborhood hardware store. Each contribution will count toward a collective goal of updating 100,000 businesses. We’ll use feedback on the Local Love challenge to guide future campaigns in more countries.”

“In 2020 alone, Local Guides added more than 8 million places to Google Maps, from local businesses and services to parks and plazas,” says Google. “And during a year where we saw much change, they went above and beyond and updated business attributes on more than 17 million places in Maps, like if a restaurant offers takeout or is open for dine-in. If you’ve discovered something new in Google Maps or found helpful information about a place, chances are it was with the help of a Google Maps Local Guide.”

Google also says that it is going to be adding a new type of content in Google Maps: photo updates. With photo updates, Google Maps users will be able to find and share experiences and highlights. A photo update for Google Maps is a recent photograph of a place with a short text description; no review or ratings is necessary. You can see the latest photo updates for a location by going to the Updates tab when looking at a place in Google Maps. These pictures could have been snapped by merchants, customers and others. To add a photo, go to the “upload a photo update” button, select your photos, leave a short description and post. There is no limit to the number of photos that you can post and you can also see the photo updates being posted by others in the Updates tab.

While the last new feature is for the desktop version of Google Maps only, we included it with this story since, well, we are generally nice guys and gals. You can now report changes to the roadway by clicking on the side menu and tapping on “Edit the map”, and selecting “Missing Road.” You will have the power to add roads by drawing lines, renaming roads, and deleting incorrect roads. Google will vet these updates before publishing them.

What is easy to see is that the global pandemic has made Google Maps more important than ever. Cities are changing with some places closed or about to shut down and new places soon to open. Whether it is a restaurant, a dry cleaners, or a movie theater, Google Maps is the place to turn to in order to find what you need. And as the world slowly recovers from the pandemic, local information is more important now than it ever was.

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