The Secret to Knowing If a Restaurant Is Crowded Before You Get There

As much as we love San Francisco, the city is really starting to try our patience. The hour it takes to cross the Bay Bridge. (What are we in L.A.?) The vicious hunt for a parking spot. The hours-long wait for brunch at Plow. We know the best things come to those who wait, but who has time for that? Enter Google Maps, which has figured out a way to save our frazzled nerves. It’s called live data, and it shows you how crowded a restaurant is in real time.

How to use it: Open the app and look for the pink “live” icon under the popular-times bar graph (just make sure you’ve installed the most recent iOS update) to see how busy a place currently is compared with what’s normal. Then strategize accordingly.

All right, Google, how exactly does this work? Apparently, Maps calculates “aggregated and anonymized data” from users who have opted in to location history (in other words, there is a digital record that we went to Mr. Holmes Bakehouse three times last week…shh). Creepy, for sure, but if it means we have a chance at getting a table at State Bird Provisions, count us in.

Even cooler is that this new real-time data doesn’t just apply to restaurants. You can also see how busy the Apple store is or when to time your weekly trip to Whole Foods. 

With your extra time, you can fit in a sheet mask and some Barefoot Contessa reruns before brunch.

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