Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Google Takes On Yelp by Adding Personalized Features to Maps

(Bloomberg) -- Google Maps is getting a face-lift, and the new features could tread further into the local-listing business of rivals such as Yelp Inc.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google unveiled new services for its mapping software that will give more direct access to retail businesses and personalized features. Two new additions save a user’s preferences and rankings for stores, restaurants and other buildings. "Now you can confidently pick the places that are best for you," Google’s Jen Fitzpatrick, who leads Maps, said onstage Tuesday at the company’s I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California.

Google has long held a massive technical lead over peers with its digital maps, but has been reluctant to lean on it for revenue from advertising or local listings.

At I/O, the internet search giant also introduced something called Visual Positioning System, a new way for people to find their own locations on Google Maps using their cameras and Google’s advanced computer-vision technology.

The feature tackles a common problem when using Google Maps for walking directions: It’s not always clear which way to walk initially. Now users will be able to raise their phones and see an image of the street with a large arrow pointing the correct way.

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