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Google Is Trying to Save Diners from Interminable Restaurant Wait Times

Know whether you’ll actually get a seat at your favorite walk-in eatery before you go.

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For more than a decade, there has been a trend toward more casual restaurants where the formalities of fine dining are stripped away without losing the quality of food. This has had many advantages—but one major disadvantage. When that super-hot restaurant of the moment has a walk-ins-only policy, you may find yourself showing up to a place with a massive wait that eats up your entire night.

Google has announced it wants to help with this problem. Not the problem of solving wait times—that’s what old-school reservation systems are for. They want to prevent restaurant patrons from getting unexpectedly stuck outside a restaurant for 2 hours, hoping the host will call their name. To solve this, Google’s engineers will soon roll out a new feature where users will be able to see estimated wait times when searching for the nearly million sit-down restaurants around the world with a walk-in policy.

A couple of years ago, Google introduced the popular-times graph to help show people the busiest days and times at their favorite cafés and restaurants. Now, there is a live version of this feature, which will give you a projected wait in real time. The company creates this projection by aggregating data from any user who has opted in to Google location history, according to TechCrunch. So when you search, you’ll be able to see what the wait is, and eventually this feature will also be live in Google Maps.

It’s a handy feature for restaurant goers, for sure. However, it’s also a bit of an eerie reminder that tech companies like Google are tracking our movements and using our data in ways we didn’t know we had agreed to in the first place.

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