Google Maps continues its seemingly unstoppable transformation into a veritable jack of all trades, with the mapping application over the last month or so seeing all manner of new features added to it. Features, we should point out, that don’t seem to have much obvious direct relation to, you know, actually plotting points on a map and navigating to them. You can do Yelp-like restaurant research within Google Maps, communicate with businesses and message them directly similar to the way you interact with Facebook Pages and share your live ETA with family and friends. Additionally, Google Maps is also now supporting hashtags within the business reviews accessible through the app.
Google confirmed to Techcrunch that support for hashtags rolled out worldwide a little more than a week ago to Android devices. The idea here is to add things like, say, “this restaurant would make for a great #datenight” right there in your review. But don’t go overboard. Per TC: “Google suggests that users add up to five hashtags per review, and place them at the end of the review to make the text easier to read … So far, it had only been announced to members of Google Maps’Local Guides program — the program that rewards its members for sharing their reviews, photos and knowledge about businesses and other places they visit.”
This feature is also apparently retroactive. Guides, according to TechCrunch, were told they can go back and add hashtags to old reviews, in addition to including them in new reviews. An important point also worth noting: Google doesn’t want you to do the Instagram thing and go nuts within non-useful hashtags like #blessed. At least in terms of what the search giant confirmed to TechCrunch, it seems like you won’t be able to surface much with that kind of addition to reviews.
No word yet on when this feature will be available on the web or iOS devices. If you’ve got an Android device and you come across one of these hashtags in a Google Maps business review, tap the hashtag and you’ll then see a list of nearby places with that same tag.
As we said, this is one more in a growing list of new features Google has brought to Maps, like another that effectively turns the app into an additional messaging service on your phone. Yes, you can now message businesses directly from within Google Maps (provided they’ve set up their profile to allow this within Maps). Google’s thinking here is that you might be on the bus and needed to order a cake. You don’t want to make a call, so bam. Just send the baker a message within Google Maps. Of course, the deeper idea here is to keep you within the app for as long as possible. Wouldn’t want you checking the app for directions and then turning to Facebook or — heaven forbid — picking up a phone, now would we.