While the US has Yelp and India has Zomato as apps dedicated to helping you pick a restaurant to eat at, Google is trying to get into the game in a big way. Google Maps has been boosting its restaurant and bar listings in a big way to take on the established services. It's now testing a feature that shows ‘popular dishes' at some restaurants, using images that are crowd-sourced from users who upload pictures to Maps. The feature is only visible to a small number of users for now.
The feature was discovered by Twitter user @wimbet, who posted screenshots of the crowd-sourced menu images. The new ‘popular dishes' tab is somewhat like a menu for the restaurant, but only seems to be focused on the most popular items on the menu, as the name suggests. It shows crowdsourced images of the most popular dishes at a particular restaurant, giving users an idea of what a restaurant is popular for. The ‘popular dishes' are visible under the menu tab, assuming the menu of a restaurant is available through the Google Maps listing. The feature hasn't rolled out widely yet, and 9to5Google speculates it was probably spotted in the Google Maps beta channel.
The feature seems to work by scanning reviews of restaurants to find out what dishes are popular, and then further scanning through users' images to post the right ones. As seen in the screenshots though, not every photo has a dish name attached, and users can contribute by editing. The feature appears to rely heavily on Google's excellent machine learning and AI algorithms, and takes Google's listings a step further, at least when it comes to restaurants.
Google Maps does a lot more than just listing restaurants of course, offering information on shopping, landmarks, and more through the app. It's also handy in helping with navigation and traffic information. While this latest feature is still being tested, it could soon roll out to all users.