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New Google Maps tool makes 'busyness' its business. Here's how it works

Google Maps updated its "busyness" feature to show you live information about how crowded shops and restaurants are. Parks, too.

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Google Maps gets a new feature -- here's how it works.

Angela Lang/CNET

Google announced on Thursday that it expanded its "busyness" feature in the Google Maps app to show you live information on whether a place is crowded or empty. For example, if you're planning on going to the grocery store, you'll be able to see how many people are actually there. 

This update comes in response to the coronavirus pandemic to help people know what to expect when heading to a public place. Google says it's expanded the feature to more outdoor areas, like beaches and parks, and essential places, like grocery stores, gas stations, laundromats and pharmacies.

Once the feature is available, you only need to open the Maps app on your Android or iPhone ($699 at Amazon) or navigate to Google Maps in your browser and move around on the map until you find where you want to go. The busyness information will appear on the map, so you don't need to search for a specific place to see how crowded it is. It'll say something like "Not busy," "Busier than usual," or "As busy as it gets." Google says this new Maps feature will roll out in the coming weeks.

For more Google tips, check out these six useful Google Maps tricks you didn't know until today, seven hidden Gmail features and these three Google Home tips that will save you from voice match anguish.

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