Google Maps takes on Yelp, offers prizes for local map experts
Google Maps offers a ton of local info when you use the navigation system on your Android or Apple smartphone, including local businesses, eateries, or interesting spots.
The company is expanding its Local Guides program in Google Maps, which will let you share your own discoveries directly to the map, making it more useful for others as well as competing with Yelp, which has a similar service.
But wait, there’s more. With every bit of local expertise you share with Google Maps through the Local Guides program, you’ll get points.
Once you sign up with the Local Guides system, every unique place you contribute to Google Maps will earn you points towards some cool Google stuff, like early entry in contests for new Google schwag, extra space in Drive, or even attendance at a summit in 2016 held at the Google campus.
Every review you write, photo you upload, new place you add, or fix you apply to outdated information will earn you a point. Each place has up to five points, letting you rack up the score pretty easily.
Google has the following prizes for its top contributors:
The more you contribute as a Local Guide, the more benefits you’ll enjoy. Here’s an overview of what you’ll unlock at each level:
Level 1 (0 – 4 points): Enter exclusive contests (think new Google devices!) in select countries.
Level 2 (5 – 49 points): Get early access to new Google products and features.
Level 3 (50 – 199 points): Show up in the Google Maps app with your official Local Guides badge.
Level 4 (200 – 499 points): Receive a free 1 TB upgrade of your Drive storage, allowing you to keep all the stories, photos, and videos from your travels in one safe place.
Level 5 (500+ points): The very top Local Guides will become eligible to apply to attend our inaugural summit in 2016, where you’ll be able to meet other top Guides from around the world, explore the Google campus, and get the latest info about Google Maps. Look out for details early next year.
Once you start contributing via the Android or iOS apps, you’ll be able to keep track of your progress in a new Contributions tab in the updated Google Maps app. This new tab will show you your total points, level, and even to-do lists and suggestions for local places to contribute to. When you upload a photo, you’ll even see view counts, so you know who’s checking out your images.
Sure, Google just wants local folks to do all the heavy lifting, but at least their offering up some incentive to do so.