Google is your best ally this Black Friday, helping you to beat the holiday crowds with new data that tells you just how crowded your favorite stores are using real-time info. Shorter lines make for a merrier holiday.

Front page news:
Google now delivers real-time crowd information about your favorite spots.  With this, you know exactly how busy a restaurant, department store or pharmacy is before you hop in the car this holiday season. Helpful in outsmarting crowds on Black Friday and reducing wait times at restaurants, the Popular Times feature gives you a “real-time look at how crowded a place is right now, to help you decide where and when to go. Whether you’re rushing to pick up a last minute gift or seeking a lively bar for some festive spirit, check Popular Times for a sneak preview of what to expect when you arrive.”

Using anonymized location data from smartphones, Google, for example, is able to give a real-time estimate of how busy this Target store in Los Angeles at this very moment.

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Also included in updated search results: information on how long people typically spend at the store, so you can plan your shopping spree precisely. Most shoppers at this Target spend 20 minutes to 1 hour inside the store, compared to 30 minutes at the nearby Westwood location.

Accurate details on Black Friday store hours is now available at a glance, too. Useful because seasonal hours can sometimes differ from what is published online.

Reading between the headlines:
According to Yahoo, “Google is working on bringing more and more detailed information to businesses, restaurants, bars, and so on. The company has been asking customers questions after it detects that they visited a location, such as whether or not the business is kid-friendly, serves alcohol, and so on. All this information can be extremely helpful for users, who may want to try something new or make sure that they don’t get stuck somewhere for too long.”

Google seeks to enhance search results with crowdsourced and anonymous smartphone data to create “super search results.”  Users can also contribute to accuracy of results by sending details directly to Google:

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How to get it:
Simply type in the store or restaurant you’re interested in, along with location information, into Google to access the real-time results.  For example, type “Bloomingdale’s 59th Street NYC” into Google and you will get real-time crowd data from Google Maps.  But, if you simply type in “Bloomingdale’s,” you will get more generic listings, such as a corporate website and a guess at which locations you are nearby you.

***Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!***

– Shibani