Google to add restaurant wait times to Google Search and Maps, followed by grocery stores

Sarah Perez

Google announced today it will soon roll out a new feature to Google Search, followed by Google Maps, that will show you the estimated wait times for area restaurants. The addition is an expansion on Google's existing feature which shows businesses' busy times, but with a tweak that helps diners better decide where and when they want to eat.

For over a couple of years now, Google has been leveraging data from Google Maps' install base to deliver these sorts of insights. For example, back in summer 2015, it began to show mobile web users which days of the week and time of day were the busiest for local businesses using charts that appear in the business listing.

Last year, it improved the feature by offering this same information, but in real-time.

Google's new restaurant wait times also comes from the aggregated and anonymized data from users who opted in to Google Location History - the same data that powers popular times, wait times and visit duration.

In the case of restaurants, Google will now include a pop-up box that appears when you click on a time frame in the popular times' chart. The box shows the live or historical data labeled as "busy," "usually busy," "usually not busy," etc., along with the wait time.

Below the popular times chart, there's also a section that helps users plan their visit by offering info on the peak wait times and duration. (e.g. "People typically spend 45 mins to 2 hr here.")

The new wait time feature will be supported on nearly a million sit-down restaurant listings worldwide, initially in Google Search.

With the addition, Google is at least partly challenging existing apps like NoWait, which is handy for seeing restaurant wait times. But unlike Google, NoWait also lets you put your name on the list for those restaurants that don't take reservations.

Google says the feature begins rolling out today, and once live, you'll see the times in the restaurant listings on both mobile and desktop. It will then come to Google Maps to Android, at which point it will expand to include grocery stores, the company says.

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