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article imageGoogle wants your food photos to power a new Maps feature

By James Walker     Aug 24, 2015 in Technology
Google has reportedly found a use for all of the photos of food that people take on their phones. The company is testing a Maps feature that lets users easily tag images to restaurant listings, letting everybody see what the food looks like.
Google Local Guides who are level 3 and above - people who have written 50 or more reviews on Maps - are being informed of the upcoming feature, according to Android Police. When a photo is taken at a place that serves food, Maps will ask whether it should be uploaded for others to see online.
A three-step instruction graphic shows how simple the process is. Taking a photo at a known restaurant or bar will trigger a notification from Google Maps. Accepting it allows you to upload the image of "your epic meal" to the service "in just two taps".
Notifications apparently appear after visiting a place that Google thinks is interesting to other people. It does not appear as though the feature is tied to only pictures of the food, suggesting that you could also upload images of the architecture of the venue or an interesting item showcased inside.
The mention of "epic meals" does suggest that there will be a heavy slant towards food but unless Google is using advanced image recognition technology it has no way of actually checking that each image is of something edible. It's possible that Google could expand the model to other types of place - such as museums, historical attractions and beaches - if it proves a success with restaurants.
The feature follows an earlier Google effort to give photos of food a better home. In February, an app called Tablescape launched that encouraged users to upload "foodographs" for others to view, showcasing content and tips to create a collection of the best food photos online. The app was killed just a few months later though. At the time, the team wrote "This doesn't mean we're giving up on food photography, you may see the influence of Tablescape in future apps."
It seems as though that may be manifesting itself now. Rather than creating a relatively obscure specialist app, Google has decided to make food photography mainstream by integrating it directly into one of its core services.
Eventually, each restaurant listed on Google Maps could be accompanied by a vast photographic archive of the meals it serves. Not only would it be illustrative of what to expect when visiting but it would also give the hundreds of "foodographs" that food photographers take each year a better purpose than just sitting forgotten about in the camera roll.
More about Google, Maps, Photos, Food, foodograph
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