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November 7, 2017

Google Wait Times feature saves you from waiting in line at restaurants

by John_A

Nothing ruins your dinner like a long wait. Luckily, Google understands, and is here to save you from the monster that is your hungry self. The latest feature from the search giant is aptly titled “Wait Times,” and as the name suggests, will let you know how long you ought to expect to wait to get your meal, drink, or favorite baked good. So if you don’t want to hire a TaskRabbit to stand in line for you, simply pull out your phone and monitor how busy your favorite restaurant is, and swoop in when the line is the least intimidating.

“When it comes to a saucy bowl of pasta or a perfectly cooked steak, people are willing to wait in (long) lines for a taste of their favorite comfort foods,” wrote Quang Duong, a Google Maps software engineer. But just because you’re willing doesn’t mean you have to. Once Wait Times rolls out on Google Search (and later on, Google Maps), you’ll be able to track live updates regarding the popularity of your common haunts. So if you see that the waitlist is an hour long at 7 p.m., you can check back at 8 instead of wasting 60 minutes standing in line.

In order to check out Wait Times, all you need to do is search the restaurant on Google, open its business listing, and scroll down to the Popular Times section. From there, you’ll actually be able to see the real-time estimated wait time. And if you tap on any of the now interactive hour bars, you’ll be able to see the estimated wait time for that particular time of day. If you scroll left and right, you’ll be greeted with a summary of each day’s wait times underneath the hour bars, allowing you to plan ahead and never waste time in a line.

Duong noted that the wait time estimates are all contingent upon “anonymized historical data,” which is similar to how Google computed the previously launched Popular Times and Visit Duration features. So if the thought of going hungry while other patrons waltz in and out of your neighborhood pizzeria sends you into a rage, just check Wait Times on Google and avoid those anger management courses.

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