It looks like you'll soon be able to send and receive messages via Google Maps on your phone, but it's not for talking to your pals about where you're going. It's for chatting to businesses.
The idea of messaging companies is growing in popularity, and the big tech companies seem to think we all want to be able to IM Pets At Home to ask about the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow. Whether Pets At Home wants to be dealing with asinine enquiries that are probably answered on their website is less clear, though.
The new feature was spotted by Reddit user Sanju2cool, who kindly provided screenshots:
It's not set in stone that this is a feature that will be rolled out to everyone: it might well be a test. Perhaps if enough people send stupid queries, Google will walk it back.
We checked our Google Maps Android app and we do indeed have the feature, though we couldn't find any businesses that had it enabled, so we haven't been able to hassle anyone about why they're not open when people aren't at work.
If the feature does go mainstream, we assume companies will be able to opt out of receiving instant messages. But it's likely to be a useful thing for people who hate making phone calls and know businesses don't reply to emails – which is pretty much everyone. [Techradar]