Mobile Commerce

Google Maps Takes Baby Steps Towards Commerce

Hidden deep within the recent Google Maps update for version 9.17 are subtle hints that Google is planning to expand certain commerce functionality, specifically around its current gas pricing and amenities search features. This has the tech public speculating wildly about what’s next for the Internet giant.

PCWorld recently reported that the latest Google Maps update has within it assets that suggest search functionality around gas pricing and what amenities are available at a nearby hotel, for example, will be included in coming iterations. Android Police, another technology website, also did a full “APK (Android application package) teardown” of the update to show exactly how Google plans on executing the new features and what the resulting experience would look like for consumers.

The latter outlet’s investigation into the code of the release revealed an interesting insight around fuel pricing. While Google Maps currently shows gas price results for stations nearby, they are limited to the standard 87 octane variety. Within the 9.17 release code — but not live in the current version — are placeholders for higher octane varietals as well, suggesting that Google doesn’t want to leave auto enthusiasts with a preference for higher grade fuels out in the cold.

Users of the Google Maps feature can also expect to be getting a lot more details about nearby hotels, perhaps to help connect Maps users with Google’s new instant booking service, which allows them to book accommodations directly within the Google search results window. A set of icons which correspond with amenities like child-friendly (a stroller), air conditioning (a snowflake) and airport shuttle (a van) are all part of the icon set.

While none of these features are live — making all of this speculation at this point — these items hidden deep in the back end of the release do suggest that Google has no plans for reining in its advance on commerce. In fact, the online behemoth seems to have its sights set on become the Internet’s and mobile browser’s one-stop shop for finding products, comparing prices and completing purchases, without ever leaving a Google app.

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