Google Maps has changed a lot over the years, beginning as a tool for mapping and navigation, and progressively introducing big and clever features like current traffic monitoring, incident reporting, reviews, messaging, and much more. The latest change comes straight out of the social network playbook by introducing a news feed filled with recent local events, reviews, openings, new businesses, and more.
Google is calling this the 'community feed,' but it will be effectively replacing the Explore tab, which floats at the bottom of the screen when Maps launches. The tab name will stay the same, but instead of getting a list of nearby restaurants and places to visit — which become fairly stale after you've seen it a few times — you'll find a stream of recent events related to the places around you, like new reviews and additions to the menu.
This appears to be an evolution of the Updates tab, which already displayed updates from the people and businesses you follow, plus other local information. However, the community feed expands on this with new data points and some of Google's algorithmic magic to pair you with things you might be interested in. And the social network influence doesn't stop there, you'll also find a 'like' button to give some positive feedback.
Much like the previous version of the Explore tab, the feed will change as you zoom and pan across the map; so you can observe news for the places around you or take a look at other areas you're planning to visit. This also gives more visibility to posts from businesses, including event announcements, changes to the menu, hours, and other news.
The overall change to the Explore tab should make it more useful, especially for users that stick to the same places and routines. You'll now get more up-to-date information and clues about what to expect the next time you're out.
The community feed appears to be in the process of rolling out, but you may not have it yet. Google doesn't give a timeline, but features like this typically take anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks to reach wide release.