With Popular Times, Google introduced a nifty little feature for its search engine last year that lets you know how busy a restaurant, coffee shop or bar typically is at any given time of the week. Today, it’s taking this concept a step further by making this tool real-time. So now, you will know exactly how long the line is going to be before you even head out to your favorite brunch place on Sunday morning.
Like before, the Popular Times widget will appear when you look for a restaurant or bar in Google Search and Google Maps. It uses anonymized location data and searches to determine how busy a place currently is.
In my experience, the non-real time version was always pretty accurate, but it obviously doesn’t account for any special events that may change how many people crave Bloody Marys on any given Sunday. In case Google gets it wrong, though, you won’t get your time back but you can send it a correction.
Google already lets you know how long people lingered at a given place, so if you’re trying to figure out if you can still squeeze in a quick coffee before your next meeting, the combination of the new real-time data and this existing feature will hopefully get you there on time.
As far as I can see, the new real-time Popular Times feature isn’t live yet, but I would expect it to be available in the next few hours.