As we all start to venture out a little more this holiday season, Google Maps is giving you a good reason to stay inside. A new feature rolling out to iPhones and Android phones will help you avoid crowds as well as traffic jams.
Like Waze but for people instead of cars, Google Maps will soon include a section for Area Busyness. Building on the live busyness feature that helps predict when train cars are too crowded for comfort, the new feature will “instantly spot when a neighborhood or part of town is near or at its busiest.” So you’ll be able to reschedule your trip for a different time if there are too many people there.
Google’s busyness information uses “aggregated and anonymized” location data to predict how busy a place will be during a specific time of day. It breaks it down into an hourly graph that shows how long you can expect to wait. It also uses “insights from Location History data in real-time” to adjust for seasonal spikes, like Christmas shopping.
According to Google’s description of the feature (the gif in the article isn’t working), users will tap on a neighborhood to see how busy it is at different times of day, along with the restaurants, shops, and recreational places within it.
Area Busyness starts rolling out globally on Android and iOS, in time for this holiday season.