Google is introducing a new way for Maps users to contribute without having to leave a review. Google Maps photo updates will be available in the coming weeks, while a “Local Love” challenge is kicking off.

Photo updates in Google Maps are comprised of images and a short text description. This new content type lets you capture a “recent snapshot of a place” without having to leave a rating or review. It comes as people often leave helpful tips in reviews that might be buried.

Seeing is believing and photos are a great way to learn more about a place. But sometimes you need a little more information, like if a restaurant’s outdoor dining area is shaded on hot days or how crowded a parking lot for a popular hiking trail can get on the weekends.

A new “upload a photo update” button will let you select multiple images and write a description. These posts will be viewable from the “Updates” tab in a listing under the “From visitors” feed. When available, they’ll appear next to official messages from business owners.

Google Maps photo updates

On this front, Google is running a nationwide “Local Love” challenge in the US to “rally helpful reviews, photos and updates” for local businesses. It will run for a month with status updates and a feed of what you can personally submit available in the “Contribute” tab on Android:

Each contribution will count toward a collective goal of updating 100,000 businesses. We’ll use feedback on the Local Love challenge to guide future campaigns in more countries. 

It comes as there are now 150 million users worldwide in the crowdsourced Local Guides program. Launched six years ago, they have contributed to over 200 million places and are responsible for more than 70% of the reviews, photos, and other types of user-generated content in Maps. Google today also announced a new road editing tool.

In 2020 alone, Local Guides added more than 8 million places to Google Maps, from local businesses and services to parks and plazas. And during a year where we saw much change, they went above and beyond and updated business attributes on more than 17 million places in Maps, like if a restaurant offers takeout or is open for dine-in.

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