Google lets users get social with Maps

Google enables users to share favorite spots, bucket lists on Maps app

Google is moving to make Maps more than just about getting to your destination. Maps is getting social.

Zach Maier, a product manager with Google Maps, announced in a blog post Monday that users can create lists of their favorite places, places they want to visit and share those lists with friends within the app.

"Starting today, you can create lists of places, share your lists with others, and follow the lists your friends and family share with you -- without ever leaving the Google Maps app," Maier said.

To make Maps a social tool, users open the app on either the iPhone or Android platform and then tap on, say, a restaurant, museum or club. Tap on the Save icon and it will add the spot to one of several pre-set lists, such as Want to Go or Favorites, according to Maier.

Users also can create their own lists. To find their lists, people can go to Your Places on the side menu of Maps and open the Saved tab.

Maps' new feature also is designed to show your saved places on the map itself.

"Because sharing is caring, we made it easy to share lists like "Best Views in SF" via text, email, social networks and popular messaging apps," noted Maier. "Whenever friends and family come to town, tap the share button to get a link and start flexing your local knowledge muscles. Once you send a link to your out-of-towners, they can tap "Follow" to pull up the list from Your Places whenever they need it."

According to Google, the lists can be seen and shared on mobile devices and desktop computers. Users also can download the maps to use when they're offline.

The new feature is another step in social media for Google, which has struggled to bust into the social media world.

Google+, the company's rival social network competing with Facebook and Twitter, wasn't the hit the company had hoped for.

Google seems to be taking a different tack now, taking one of its most popular apps and making it social.

"This is a dramatically different way of them approaching social," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "Instead of starting big and horizontal like Google+, they're starting small. It's a very different tack, but worth a try. Google's horizontal approach hasn't worked so far."

Going social with Maps, which so many people use, may be an easier way to get people sharing destinations with friends. And that would mean more eyes and more time on a Google product.

"Google has an excellent Maps product," added Moorhead. "People want to know if their friends like or have been at a certain place and trust their friends more than anyone else. Therefore, I think this has a chance."

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