You might likely already use Google Maps for many of your local searches and navigation needs, but what if you were able to use Google Maps in an entirely new way: By interacting with local businesses and retailers based on location any time you walked into one of their establishments. According to a recent report Google was apparently working on such a capability of Google Maps with a new service that was dubbed Google Here, which they had plans to launch to Android users sometime within 2015 and iOS users at a later date, but the service and project were shut down by Larry Page due to concerns over privacy and demand from retailers.
According to the details Google was unsure about the demand of the product from retail partners, and likely the more pressing concern would have been over privacy issues as Google was seemingly worried about the app being viewed as more of an invasion of privacy than a helpful and useful service. Google Here was reportedly being headed by the Google Maps team as well as strategic partner manager Dan Cath, and its goal was to potentially provide retailers a way to interact with users based on Google Maps knowing where they were when they entered those businesses.
Through a series of beacons provided to participating retail partners like Starbucks which was stated to be one of the planned partners for the launch, as well as functionality baked into Maps itself, the Maps application would be able to talk to the beacons in those retailers and then send a notification to users’ devices within a short five-second span of entering the business. Users could choose to tap on this notification or not, and tapping on it would end up opening what’s been referred to as an HTML5 “app” experience for things like loyalty card access, possible rewards or discounts on purchases, and potentially the ability to pay for things using the Tap to Pay function on supported Android devices. All of these examples are of course just examples, since the service was scrapped and it never got off the ground. This potential use of what is called an “app-less experience” could have been a way for Google to make more money through monetizing Maps with this form of advertisements, but it seems clear that Google was more worried about using Maps to push notifications of this nature to users. Push notification is a widely used tactic by many different applications and games in the play Store, but they aren’t necessarily well-received by users who get them, and Google likely wasn’t willing to alienate users who interact with Maps on a constant basis for this purpose.