Unlimited information is supposed to help us make our best decisions. If that's the case, Google may soon eliminate long wait times at restaurants by showing them in search results.
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Real-time wait estimates are coming to Google Maps and search results as soon as this week. You can already see the static bar graph relating peak busy hours, but now Google will show what "busy" means from place to place. A delay at one restaurant might mean over an hour, but another could accommodate you in 10 minutes.
We're all busy, and no one likes being ambushed by a long wait for a table when you're already hungry or pressed for time. Google is using anonymized historical data to predict trends at nearly a million sit-down restaurants worldwide. If you've ever wondered what opting into Google Location History gets you, it's stuff like this.
TechCrunch reports that the feature will roll out for grocery stores down the road. Being able to plan your excursions, whether it's for a business lunch or a hanger emergency, should help keep your schedule efficient and on point. If you're concerned that off-peak hours will suddenly get crowded, never fear: Google collects this data on an ongoing basis, and search results will reflect any chances in popularity.
Obviously no technology is perfect, and there are things an algorithm can't predict. But it's always nice to have a leg up when all you want is to get on with your life.