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Before you go food or gift shopping, use this new Maps feature to see how busy things are

Black Friday is a notoriously busy holiday that often leads to hurt feelings and sometimes even injuries. You’ve probably seen crazy videos from years past where people get into actual fistfights over the season’s hottest toys. Tap or click for 15 crowd-pleasing gifts topping wish lists this year.

But what if you want to brave the crowds to get the best deals and avoid being anywhere that’s just a little too busy for your mood? Well, thanks to a recent Google Maps update, you might be able to save yourself some sanity this holiday shopping season.

While the update includes more than just the Area Busyness feature, it is undoubtedly beneficial to those looking to buy on the busiest shopping days of the year. So, know before you go: Google Maps can now help you avoid crowds.

Here’s the backstory

Google’s Area Busyness feature can benefit those looking to avoid crowds and those hoping to find busy areas that provide entertainment. If you are shopping on Black Friday and want to avoid waiting in line for hours, this feature will allow you to pull up the map of a specific store and check out how many people are in the area.

The same goes for restaurants and bars. If you are looking for a quiet place to enjoy a meal, pull up the map and choose accordingly based on how busy the location is.

In reverse, if you are traveling and want to find a place to meet new people or join in on the festivities, this feature will work for you as well. Simply pull up the map to find the busiest areas to indulge in holiday cheer.

To take advantage of Area Busyness, open Google Maps to find places to avoid. You can tap on a location in Google Maps to find out how busy the area is. If it seems crowded, find a different neighborhood to visit.

Other features worth checking out

The Area Busyness feature is far from the only valuable update coming our way. In addition to this helpful tool, we also get updates to Grocery pickup and the Directory tab.

Grocery Pickup

This feature is now being rolled out across the U.S. There are over 2,000 store locations currently offering pickup, and you can now order directly through Google Maps.

Directory Tab

Ever get lost in a mall or airport trying to find what you want? Whether that be a last-minute gift or a place to eat, the new Directory Tab can help you navigate just about anywhere in the world. While not every location has been cataloged by Google yet, it is currently available in many parts of the world.

Downloading Google Maps

You can use Google Maps on both Android and Apple devices. Download it for Android here. Or get it for iOS here.

A final note about Google Maps

While these features will undoubtedly prove to be an added convenience for Google Maps users, it also illustrates how much data is collected to provide this type of information. Websites like Google and Facebook are free for a reason, and the cost is your privacy.

Keep reading

How to see everything Google tracks about you and erase it

One buried Google Maps setting you need to change now

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