In short: Google has now confirmed it’s rolling out its ‘group planning’ feature to Google Maps. The feature is set to arrive on Android “this week” with the rollout having officially started today. So while it may be the case the new feature is already live for some users, it might not be for others. Once the update does land, users will be able to better plan group events using Maps.
Background: Google first unveiled its group planning feature during this year's Google I/O event along with a host of other changes and upgrades that where set to come to Maps. Since then those changes have been slowly rolling out at intervals with this update being the most recent. The crux of the new feature is an improved way to decide on where a group of people will go during a day or night event. As users are now able to add places of interest (for example, restaurants) to a shortlist which can then be shared with others. Likewise, those others can also add different places to the same shortlist, delete places from the shortlist (including ones you or someone else might have added), and even vote on the places listed.
Impact: Besides the general motivation to get people more involved with Maps, Google is promoting this feature as a way in which users of the navigation-based service can spend less time talking about where to go, and more time going to those places. As this is meant to solve the age-old problem of having to create a chain message which involves multiple replies from multiple people, and keeping track of all those replies and ideas. Instead, users can quickly add a place to the shareable list by long-pressing on it which will then send the place to a floating bubble located on the side of the screen. From here, everyone who has access will see your suggestions and agree or disagree, and so on. Whether this actually results in places getting chosen quicker and in a more amicable way remains to be seen, though it should cut down on all those text messages and emails.