Google Launches Q&A Feature for Google Maps and Mobile Search
The next time you’re traveling somewhere new, you may be able to use Google Maps or mobile search to ask questions about local businesses and get answers from the business owners.
This week, Google started rolling out a new Q&A section feature on Google Maps for Android and mobile search. Worldwide users of those services can now access the Q&A feature through the listing for any local business and they can ask questions about that business, such as inquiring about a restaurant’s hours of operation or asking about a museum’s special exhibits. Google notifies business owners each time a question is posed to encourage them to respond, but other users can also chime in with (hopefully) helpful information.
Some users first noticed that Google was testing the Q&A feature earlier this summer, but the company said on Wednesday that it is now making the feature available to users around the world.
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Much like other community-driven Q&A sites (Yahoo! Answers, e.g.), Google’s feature also includes a voting system that lets users identify the most helpful answers, which will appear near the top of the page. In the blog post announcing the feature’s launch, Google also encouraged business owners to input their own frequently asked questions and answers to get the ball rolling, potentially turning the feature into an alternative “FAQ” section for local businesses.
The new feature is also similar to Amazon’s Community Q&A and “Ask an owner” feature, which allows users to leave product-related questions for online sellers.