If you’ve ever been put in charge of making dinner plans for a large group of people, you know the difficulty of navigating food allergies and picky preferences to settle on an option that everyone — or at least the majority — can agree on.
But with a new group planning feature, Google is trying to ease some of that stress.
The new feature — which was announced at Google I/O in May and started rolling out to users on Wednesday — lets you use Google Maps to create a shortlist of restaurant options that your friends can vote on. By scrolling through the app’s “Explore” tab, you’ll be able to view a list of restaurants and compile the poll, which can then be shared on messaging platforms.
Although some group messaging platforms do currently have polling features available — like GroupMe and iMessage, for example — the amount of information you can include is quite limited.
It’s worth noting that in order to use Google’s polling feature, everyone in the group must have Google Maps downloaded. So before relying on this app to make all your future plans, make sure your friends loyal to Apple Maps download Google’s navigational app.
Here’s how you can start using Google Maps to make group planning less of a painful and tedious process.
When scrolling through a list of options in Google Maps’ Explore tab — which you can filter based on location, price, etc. — long press on a place to add it to a shortlist you want to create.
Your shortlist is indicated by a small floating bubble off to the side of your screen that will show the number of places you have added to your list.
Clicking on the bubble will show you the list of options, which is easy to edit. You can then share the list to a group on a number of platforms, including iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and email.
Once the list is shared, members of the group can vote on the options with either a thumbs up or thumbs down. Everyone with access will be able to add additional suggestions or remove any of the options, and the app will even indicate which place is winning in the poll.
This new feature does not guarantee the everyone’s happiness with the final decision, but hopefully the democratic process will ease some of the stress of group planning.
The group planning feature will be available to use when you update to the latest version of Google Maps on your smartphone.