Google Maps for iOS will now allow users to follow their favorite businesses right in the app, the company announced today. The feature, which positions the platform as a challenger to Facebook Pages, lets users keep track of a business’s news and updates — like their sales, promotions or events, for example — through a new “For You” tab in the mobile app.
The feature was previously available on Android.
This past fall, Google rolled out the “Follow” feature on Google Maps on Android with little fanfare, beyond a brief blog post about the launch. But the feature’s significance shouldn’t be understated. Google Maps is one of the most-used apps in the world with more than a billion users. Over the years, it has steadily expanded its feature set beyond just place search and navigation to become a tool to seek out new businesses, find restaurants and shops, read reviews, browse photos and much more.
Now, Google is giving businesses a way to directly communicate with their customers, much like Facebook does today.
Through a revamped My Business app, also launched last fall, business owners can post content updates to their business profile on Google. These are the same sort of updates that, previously, would have been published exclusively to social media — like the dates of a big sales event or a grand opening, for example.
Businesses can also use the My Business app to track their customer reviews and respond to messages from Google Maps users in a centralized fashion.
However, before today, the ability for Google Maps users to follow their favorite businesses’ updates was something that was only available on Android. Now, iOS users can join in, too.
Starting this week, Google is rolling out an update to the Google Maps app. Now, iOS users can search for a place — like a restaurant, store or anything else — then tap the “Follow” button to keep up with the place’s news within the “For You” tab.
And on the other end, businesses will now be able to see all their customers — not just those using Android devices.
The Follow button is rolling out today, but releases reaching this large of a user base take time. You may not see the changes immediately, but should soon.