Google Maps Now Estimates Restaurant Waits—Were Checking Big Star Religiously

It’s 32 degrees and you’re standing outside, waiting for fish tacos from Big Star. Shouldn’t there be an app for this? Turns out there is—sort of.

Google Maps recently rolled out live data, which shows you how crowded a restaurant (or really any business) is in real time. We’re using it to check the wait time at Big Star, 3 Arts Club Cafe...even Trader Joe’s.

How to Use It: Double-check that you’ve installed the most recent iOS update. From there, open up Maps and look for the pink “live” icon beneath the popular-times bar graph. This tells you how crowded a place is compared with an average of what’s normal. Call your girls and let them know if it’s time to make a mad dash for tacos or watch the latest episode of Big Little Lies.

How It Works: This part gets a little Big Brother. Maps estimates crowd size and wait time based on “aggregated and anonymized” data from users who have enabled location history. Huh? This means that Maps is keeping tabs on how many times we hit up Au Cheval last month...oof. Still, we’ll readily reveal our burger habit in the name of shorter wait times for all.

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