Sometimes reservations just don’t work out. Or, the place you want to eat doesn’t take them. That leaves most of us with a choice to make: Roll the dice and hope the wait isn’t too long or hope you hit the joint during a lull, right when a table opens up. Thankfully, Google is about to take the pain out of getting a table, or at least knowing exactly how painful waiting for that table is going to be.
Essentially, Google is translating its Popular Times feature — which aggregates anonymized data over time — into a live function. The company will track, roughly, how many people are spending time in a restaurant at any given time and translate it out to a projected wait time. Basically, you can look up the restaurant, and you’ll have a live result. You can also click on a specific hour and see Google’s best guess for how long the wait will be. The function is rolling out in Google Search, but it’ll arrive on Maps in short order.
Of course, this isn’t going to be perfect. Google is launching this for over a million restaurants. It’s a work in progress, so treat it as such. And yes, this does seem a bit creepy if you’re not into Google tracking your every movement. But, at least, you’re trading your privacy for a little more time. It’ll be great, right up until the Googlebots take over and start ordering us to eat at that new vegan place to improve its PageRank.