New Google Maps beta brings Contributions, notification changes

There’s a new Google Maps beta making the rounds, and while it won’t bring any major changes to your daily navigation, there are a few goodies inside that might make it worth taking for a spin.

First off, Google is putting a greater emphasis on Contributions, its points- and incentives-based Yelp competitor designed to help users find top-notch local restaurants and businesses. You can now add a shortcut on your home screen that brings you directly to your Contributions screen, letting you rate places and post photos more quickly.

There’s also a new notifications toggle in the People and places menu for Bookings. By turning it on, you’ll apparently get updates when businesses near you are available for reservations. As Android Police discovered in its traditional teardown, the service is likely related to the fitness-centric Reserve with Google, and is currently limited to Los Angeles, New York City, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Additionally, Android Police unearthed some idle code that could point to features Google is still developing. Among the findings are recommendations for specific menu items at restaurants and a new way to connect users. If you want to test-drive the new Maps beta, you can sideload the Google-signed APK from APKMirror.

Why this matters: While there might not be anything here that’s a must-have feature, it’s always fun to peek into Google’s latest betas to see what coming down the road. In particular, the new user connectivity code strings are intriguing, as Google works to bring long-distance friends and family ever closer together.

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