Google has announced a new feature in its Search and Maps services that enables Black Friday shoppers to know how busy a store is in real time.

Dubbed "crowd control", the live feature comes on the back of the company's Popular Times feature, introduced last year, that lets users check how busy a place typically is at different times of the week.

Crowd control google maps

Just in time for the Black Friday swarms, we're adding a real-time look at how crowded a place is right now, to help you decide where and when to go. Whether you’re rushing to pick up a last minute gift or seeking a lively bar for some festive spirit, check Popular Times for a sneak preview of what to expect when you arrive.

The feature works by crowd-sourcing anonymized location data from other Google users and also feeds in Google searches to analyze how busy a location is at any given moment.

In addition, Google is also introducing a new way of checking how long people typically stay at a particular location, thereby allowing users to plan their itinerary ahead of time and to the minute.

The features augment the services' existing location information, which also now includes individual department and service hours for stores, businesses, restaurants. The added times are meant to help users know what time they can, say, use the pharmacy at the local drugstore or supermarket, or to find out what time food delivery begins at a nearby restaurant.

Many retailers offer steep discounts on popular items on Black Friday in order to attract customers, with Apple products frequently being included in these sales. To keep track of all the best Apple-related deals, be sure to visit MacRumors' Black Friday roundup page.

Related Forum: Community Discussion

Top Rated Comments

2010mini Avatar
95 months ago
Impressive and a little alarming at the same time.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ck2875 Avatar
95 months ago
Impressive and a little alarming at the same time.
Alarming? You mean like an "Attention K-Mart Shoppers" Blue-Light Special Alarm?

Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bubba Satori Avatar
95 months ago
I am eagerly waiting for the "popular times to relieve yourself" feature.
At my age it's about every hour. :oops:
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vault Avatar
95 months ago
Another reminder to turn stop using all Google products and services, as apparently they're tracking you down to the store level.
Do you also have a problem with traffic data gathered by your iPhone for Apple Maps? Because this works almost exactly the same way. Both are perfect examples of a useful feature created using anonymised location data.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bbeagle Avatar
95 months ago
So will this be reliable data for Apple Store crowds if they're just looking at Google data?
[doublepost=1479910844][/doublepost]
So, Google uses location data.....to give you free advice and the Apple fanboys lose their minds.
2 of 9 responses calling this 'alarming' is Apple fanboys 'losing their minds'? You really have a low bar for determining that people are losing their minds.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
95 months ago
Another reminder to turn stop using all Google products and services, as apparently they're tracking you down to the store level.
As does Apple, when we use Apple Pay:

"If you have Location Services turned on, the location of your device and the approximate date and time of the transaction may be sent anonymously to Apple." - Apple Pay Security Guide

Or when Apple wants to make money serving up an iAd:



The issue is that the majority of users have no idea that Google is tracking their every move. People are rightfully upset when they find out that every move they make is recorded by Google so Google can make more money.
And so that Google can provide more contextual assistance to the user. If you don't want it, simply go to your Google dashboard and turn it off.

They take every bit of that information and use it to market to you and your friends and family.
So do the banks. So does Apple with iAds. So do stores when they get a zip code. Or when we use a store rewards card.

It's the modern equivalent of when the general store workers knew everyone in town, what they liked, when they liked to buy it, and giving a deal on things sometimes.

If you are afraid of giving such info in return for perks, turn it all off and stop using their services.

Actually, Apple does do one noteworthy thing with the data, if you can believe their press: They don't sell it on the open market to just about anyone.
Neither does Google, nor other mainstream companies. That's why ads are served up anonymously. Ad targeting only makes continuous money if the target info is kept secret.

Too many people are so caught up in this faux Apple-Google compete thing, that they ignore the REAL threats from the hundreds of far lesser known entities who DO actually collect and do sell our info.

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Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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