Google’s Workspace side panel is adding support for Google Maps, the company announced this week. The panel already hosts relevant apps like Tasks and Keep, but Google Maps comes in as an idiosyncratic addition to what was a focused part of the Workspace interface.
The way Google explains it, the addition does make a lot of sense. With the newfound Google Maps integration, you can now more easily find information about a location and see precise details without needing to switch apps. It’s aimed at smoothening the workflow of frequent Calendar power-users. If you’re entering a meeting or an appointment into the Calendar web app, opening Google Maps to see the opening time of a venue, travel time to the location, average traffic, and so on, would now just be a click away. Google already lets you work with Maps to some degree in Calendar, but this new integration is a lot more powerful.
As you can see from the gif above, using it as easy as clicking the Maps icon on the side panel. Google is rolling this change out to all Google Workspace customers from April 19 for users on the rapid release channels. Those on the more scheduled release domains will see it starting May 3rd, and it should reach all customers by the 18th. This includes G Suite Basic and G Suite Business customers as well.
The timing of this update is likely not a coincidence. As travel begins to re-open (at least intranationally), fewer meetings are going to take place on Zoom or Meet. Google’s already planning to bring some of its workers back to the office, so a feature that would have been relatively limited in usefulness last year is more likely to be an important one going forward.