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Google could be working on a chatbot within Google Maps

Code within the latest beta suggests that a chatbot feature is in the works, and it could be related to Local Guides.
By

Published onNovember 8, 2023

Google Maps GPS Nagivation stock photo
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Code within the latest beta version of Google Maps indicates that Google could add a chatbot to the app.
  • We speculate that the chatbot could be used for the Local Guides program or possibly other uses.

Google Maps is one of the best free Android apps that you can install and use on your phone. Many of us have become used to opening Maps before leaving the house to see the estimated traffic along our usual routes. We also rely on Maps for the treasure trove of local information it has of practically every region in the world. Google wants to add more features to Maps, and the next one in line could be a chatbot.

An APK teardown helps predict features that may arrive on a service in the future based on work-in-progress code. However, it is possible that such predicted features may not make it to a public release.

Google Maps v11.105 beta includes code around a chatbot. There is not much information that can be gleaned from the strings, though.

Code
<string name="CONVO_CONTRIBS_EARLY_EXIT_DIALOG_CANCEL_BUTTON">Cancel</string>
<string name="CONVO_CONTRIBS_EARLY_EXIT_DIALOG_CONFIRM_BUTTON">End</string>
<string name="CONVO_CONTRIBS_EARLY_EXIT_DIALOG_TEXT">Your conversation will be sent as a partial submission.</string>
<string name="CONVO_CONTRIBS_END_CONVO_TITLE">End conversation?</string>
<string name="CONVO_CONTRIBS_ERROR_TIMEOUT_TEXT">Server timeout. Please try again.</string>
<string name="CONVO_CONTRIBS_INFO_BANNER_TEXT">"You're talking with a chatbot. By continuing to chat, you acknowledge and agree that the conversation will be saved according to our privacy policy."</string>
<string name="CONVO_CONTRIBS_MAP_UPDATED_TEXT">Map location submitted.</string>
<string name="CONVO_CONTRIBS_POLICY_LINK_TEXT">See policy</string>
<string name="CONVO_CONTRIBS_RETRY_LABEL">Retry</string>
<string name="CONVO_CONTRIBS_SEND_BUTTON_ACCESSIBILITY_DESCRIPTION">Send</string>
<string name="CONVO_CONTRIBS_TEXT_FIELD_INTIAL_TEXT">Type a message</string>
<string name="CONVO_CONTRIBS_THANK_YOU_SNACKBAR_TEXT">Thank you for your contribution!</string>
<string name="CONVO_CONTRIBS_UNKNOWN_ERROR_TEXT">Something went wrong. Please try again.</string>

These strings indicate that the convo_contribs feature is related to a chatbot. However, there is no mention of AI here, so it doesn’t seem like a generative AI chatbot.

We’ve reached out to Google for more insights into this feature. We’ll update the article when we hear back from them.

What functionality could a chatbot open within Google Maps?

As we mentioned, unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information about the functionality that the chatbot opens within Google Maps. I am speculating on the use cases, so take the following with a pinch of salt.

Our best guess on the chatbot functionality within Google Maps is that it relates to the Local Guides program. The strings “Map location submitted.” and “Thank you for your contribution” are good indicators for the same. The Local Guides program relies on a volunteer community to crowdsource the data used on Google Maps. Submissions made by beginners are still subject to human review, and a chatbot could help ease that flow. It could also possibly make submissions more regular from average users if Google could add a human touch with a chatbot.

A chatbot within Google Maps could also possibly provide information on points of interest. It could make finding local information conversational, in line with our general expectations from AI chatbots (though this chatbot doesn’t explicitly disclose any AI capabilities yet).

Another possibility is that Google could be building a chatbot for businesses. You can already chat with businesses from within Google Maps. A chatbot will help them deal with generic and frequently asked questions without needing human intervention. However, the strings don’t align properly for such a use case.

What do you think the chatbot within Google Maps will enable? Let us know in the comments below!