Google has started rolling out an update for its Maps app for Android, bringing a new feature named Local Guides. The feature, as a part of Google Maps version 9.4, gives users a better idea about places based on reviews by others.
First spotted by 9to5Google, the Local Guides feature, previously known as City Experts, takes reviews for local businesses from regular users and share it with others using the Google Maps app. The feature highlights the top reviewers, similar to Yelp's Elite Reviewers, and also awards a Local Guides badge to signed-up reviewers once they reach 50 reviews. Regular users can also add images and edit Maps on Google to provide better information to others.
"Through Local Guides, an official Google program, you can share your firsthand local experiences, celebrate places near and far from home, connect with a global community of explorers like you, and help local businesses improve their products and services," said the Local Guides official Facebook Page description.
Once they sign up to become Local Guides using their Google account credentials, users will be able to see their review count and ratings count on their profile's Google Maps. The search giant has not yet mentioned how it will monitor the quality of reviews. While it may take a while for Google to roll out the update to all regions, Android Police is offering the Google-signed apk file of the app for those who can't wait to install, sign-up and start reviewing. At the time of writing, the updated app was not yet available via Google Play in India.
It is worth mentioning that last month Google Maps apps for Android and iOS were given a new voice-based lane guidance feature for 20 cities in India. Apart from 20 cities - Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Mysore, Nagpur, Pune, Surat, Thiruvananthapuram, Vadodara and Visakhapatnam - the lane guidance will also work for major Indian expressways, including the Mumbai-Pune expressway.