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New real-time Google feature can tell how busy venues are

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Tech giant Google has updated its Popular Times app to stream data in real time, allowing users to see how busy a venue or place is before they get there.

The live information is based on anonymised location data farmed from app users who have enabled location services with Google apps.

As well as the number of people at a location, the real time stream also shows how long those people are staying in their location, indicating how busy or slow a specific venue is.

The service could potentially influence people’s choices on which leisure businesses to visit and which to pass on.

Jamie Aspinall, Google’s product manager, said: “Since introducing the Popular Times feature in Google Search and Maps last year, people have been able to check how busy a place typically is at different times of the week.

“Now, we’ve added a real-time look at how crowded a place is right now, to help them decide where and when to go.

“People seeking for a lively bar, for example, can check Popular Times for a sneak preview of what to expect when you arrive.”

“You can also check and see how long people typically stay at a given location so you can plan your itinerary to the minute. After all, you want to be sure you leave enough time to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate at your local sweets shop before heading to your dinner reservations.”

Aspinall adds that the app also lists the different department and service hours at locations, which could help people plan their visits to leisure businesses – such as visitor attractions – in advance.

“Businesses can sometimes have multiple hours for different departments and special services,” he says. “Now on Google, you have access to these various hours, so you’ll know what time they start serving food at a nearby restaurant.”

Aspinall gives another example – the Liberty Science Center at the Liberty State Park in New Jersey. The park opens daily at 6am, but the centre opens its doors at various times and is closed on a Monday.

Google first launched Popular Times in July 2015, but until now the tool only presented historical trends about when a venue was busy.

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Tech giant Google has updated its Popular Times app to stream data in real time, allowing users to see how busy a venue or place is before they get there.
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