According to Google, the feature has helped local businesses better communicate with their customers. “In early testing of the community feed we saw that posts from merchants are seen two times more than before the feed existed,” the company said. “So now more people can see if a local business is offering a new service, has a limited time specialty or opened outdoor seating.”
Google doesn’t explicitly mention the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s easy to see how a feature like this was likely informed, at least in part, by recent events. With limited support, local businesses in cities around the world have been devastated by the pandemic and accompanying lockdown orders. In a place like New York, a recent report highlighted by The New York Times found that by the end of the pandemic, approximately one-third of the city’s small businesses could close permanently.
The new community feed in Google Maps is now rolling out to all Android and iOS devices globally. As always, if you don’t see the new feature right away, you may need to wait a couple of days before it shows up in your app.