Google Maps is getting a major update that proves the app's future is about more than just navigation

Google Maps is getting a major update that proves the app's future is about more than just navigation
Nick Bastone/Business Insider
  • Google Maps will soon let you track curbside-pickup grocery orders in Portland, Google said Tuesday.
  • Google will also add more information to grocery listings on Maps and Search, such as minimum spends for delivery.
  • It's another sign that Google considers Maps more than just a navigation app.

If Google is your one-stop shop for everything you do online, the search giant wants Google Maps to become your go-to tool for getting things done in the real world.

That's the message Google is sending with some of the new features it announced for its popular navigation app on Tuesday, which included a pilot program for using Google Maps for curbside grocery order pickups.

Maps has become many peoples' go-to app for scouting restaurant reviews, storing lists of points of interest, and even ordering food.

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The app also shows whether stores offer curbside pickup and delivery, their COVID-19 health and safety requirements, and operating hours. Now, Google is launching a pilot program in Portland, Oregon, with the Kroger-owned grocery chain Fred Meyer that will bring Google Maps integration to the store's app.

After placing an order with Fred Meyer, customers can choose to add it to Maps so that the app sends a notification when it's time to leave home and collect. They can also share their estimated time of arrival with the store and check in with the supermarket on arrival for contactless pick up.


Google has not yet said when, or if, the program will expand beyond the pilot.

Google Maps adding more info to grocery listings

The Fred Meyer pilot is another indication that Google is turning Maps into an all-encompassing app for getting things done both online and offline. Another example is Reserve with Google, which lets you book salon appointments, fitness classes, and more through Google Maps.

Google is also adding more information to grocery business listings on Google Search and Maps such as minimum spends, fees, pickup and delivery windows, and delivery providers. This was due to launch in the United States in mobile search for Instacart and Albertson Cos. stores, and would come to Maps later, Google said.

Google Maps is expanding in other ways as well, including with weather forecasts. In the coming months, Google Maps should be able to tell you the current and forecasted temperatures for weather in your area based on data from The Weather Company, Google said. It is also set to show air quality data in the United States, India, and Australia.

Bernstein analyst Mark Shmulik told Insider's Hugh Langley earlier this year that he saw Maps as being "the most undermonetized app in existence." Shmulik said Maps had the potential to be a so-called "super-app" much like Google Pay, which has expanded beyond its initial purpose of being a simple payments app.


That's not to say navigation features are taking a backseat. Google is also adding new transportation and travel-focused features to Maps, the most interesting of which is a new indoor augmented-reality navigation feature that can display direction markers over the real world in select airports and malls.

Google's large footprint in the search and advertising industries have been at the heart of antitrust lawsuits from the Department of Justice and a group of state attorneys general over the past year.

These lawsuits are generally concerned with Google's influence in search and advertising, not Google Maps. But Google has been accused of using its search dominance to suppress sites such as Yelp, which directly compete with Google Maps in some ways, particularly when it comes to reviews and recommendations.