If you’ve ever tried getting around when traveling in a country with an unfamiliar language, you might have had trouble figuring out what all the businesses around you are, even if you could read the names. A new Google Maps feature developed in Japan and launching there today, however, should offer a little clarity.
While Google Maps has had simple icons for things like restaurants and stores before, Japanese businesses can now list themselves as one of over 1,500 categories in 19 languages: Arabic, Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, Dutch, English, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai. The categories show up right on the map view without needing to open a listing’s page.
The idea is that you’ll know that, say, Afuri is a ramen restaurant, Junkudo is a bookstore, and Matsumoto Kiyoshi is a drugstore right away.
The business categories are rolling out across Japan today and should appear the next time you land in the country. No word on when the feature will make it elsewhere around the world, but it sounds like the sort of thing that ought to be standard eventually.