Maps as social media
I’m a big fan of Google Maps, but I’ll admit the news that it now has support for hashtags made my heart sink. Hashtags? In a maps app? Why?!
The reason is because that’s just what people want these days, and even though they’re almost never used for discovery on Twitter (where they evolved), hashtags have become key to exploring apps like Instagram.
“For example, if you’re reviewing a restaurant that would make an excellent #datenight spot, you can simply add the appropriate hashtag. Or if the business is #familyfriendly or #wheelchairaccessible, you can note those sorts of things, too.”
Given people use all sorts of different, arbitrary hashtags to mean the same thing, this might not be as uniformly useful as a centralised set of tags dished out by experts, but it reflects what Google Maps is becoming – an interactive (perhaps even social!) platform for discovery.
There’s a real risk for Google that the more Maps can do, the more complicated it becomes to use, pushing people crave a simpler, more straightforward map… like Apple Maps.
But I get a feeling that hashtags aren’t the end of Google Maps’ transformation into an unconventional kind of social media platform – one that also tells you when your next bus is and how to get to your next meeting.