explore Stories September 2, 2015

Google Maps for Android gains richer local recommendation search

Google Maps on mobile has since last year had an Explore section where users can find the best restaurants to eat at and things to do in their area. With an update rolling out today to the Android app, it’s becoming a bit more easy to specify and narrow down exactly what you’re looking for.

Prior to today, Explore only used the inputs of distance and time of day to determine what to show you. Users can now, however, specify a nearby neighborhood, category, and type of cuisine to find, on top of the existing inputs. Tapping on a suggested place will bring up more detail like who the vibe is best, or least, suited for, and sometimes it’ll include why Google chose to recommend that place in particular.

It seems crazy to me that Explore in Google Maps was lacking this type of gradual search before, but it was. The new inputs make perfect sense, too — what if I specifically want to find a place to have drinks with friends, and also make sure it’s not too upscale of a place? You couldn’t narrow your results down that far before, but now you can. Well, that’s if you’re in the US or UK, where the Explore update is limited to for now. And if you happen to be in NYC, San Francisco or London, Google will even curate its suggestions into named sections like “Best places for classic Mission-style Mexican food.”

Aside from the new search, the UI has been updated a bit with a card-based interface for swiping through suggested places and their corresponding photos. This interface closely matches what Google rolled out to its search product on mobile for rich content results just a few days ago. Maps for Android also recently saw its directions interface updated with a similar tabbed design displaying duration estimates for every form of transportation to a given location.

Other location-based recommendation apps like Foursquare and Yelp have had what Google is rolling out now for quite a while, it’s worth noting. When I find an APK for this new update I’ll be sure to update this post.

explore Stories June 23, 2015

Instagram Android app adds revamped Explore tab w/ trending content, improved search

Instagram is rolling out an update today for its Android app bringing two major new features, including a redesigned Explore tab and improved search functionality. The company said the updates will “help connect our community to the world as it happens,” or in other words, a more real-time experience thanks to new trending Tags and Places within the Explore tab. 

With more than 70 million photos and videos posted to Instagram every day, wherever something is happening, chances are you can see it here. Whether it’s behind the scenes at the NBA Finals, on the runway with the latest fashion trend at a favorite club with a local band, people are capturing moments large and small on Instagram. But, until now, there’s never been an easy way to find these moments.

On top of the new trending tags and places in Explore, the company said it will be adding curated collections of images based on various themes, such as specific people or places, and featuring content from across the network.

The updated Explore feature is first rolling out to users in the US as part of the 7.0 update for Android that also adds improved search functionality:

For everyone on Instagram, we’ve dramatically improved the ability to find what you’re looking for. With the new Places Search, you can now peer in at just about any location on earth, allowing you to scout out your next vacation spot in the South Pacific, get a look inside that hot new restaurant or experience your favorite music festival — even if you couldn’t make it this year. The new Top Search also lets you search across people, places and tags all at once.

You can grab Instagram version 7.0 for Android on Google Play today. 

explore Stories November 10, 2014

Instagram is out with a feature update today with some welcome features. Users will likely appreciate the ability to edit photo captions and locations attached to photos in post now. That means if you make a typo on your caption, you no longer have to choose between correcting yourself in the comments, deleting and re-posting the photo with the correction caption, or just ignoring it altogether. expand full story

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