Maps has gradually evolved from being a simple navigation app to a Yelp competitor. Thanks to the ability for users to share photos and ratings, Google's service has turned into a social platform. These are used to identify popular places and surface them to people through the Explore feature. The company has recently put a stronger emphasis on the latter by making it easier to use and more visible. It's now testing a new functionality, allowing users to follow Local Guides for even more personalized recommendations.
In addition to providing smart recommendations based on places you rate and visit, you'll now be able to follow pre-selected Local Guides and discover new locations thanks to their reviews. The connoisseurs are picked based on how active they are on Maps and the number of posts on the platform.
For the time being, the feature is being piloted in nine cities, namely London, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Bangkok, Delhi, Osaka, and Mexico City. Featured Local Guides will appear in the app's For You tab, where you'll be able to follow them to get notified when they post recommendations.
Being a Local Guide myself, I'm thrilled about this new feature. However, I'm disappointed it's only limited to a few cities for now, and that only pre-approved Local Guides will be featured in the app. Hopefully, these limitations will be lifted once the feature is rolled out more globally.