When Will Google Become Street Smart, not Just Location Aware?

Ok Pistol, hold your horsefire: I know that Google is eerily, at times, aware of my location. Google Maps on my phone knows just about exactly where I’m at, Google Calendar is fully aware of my time zone, and even doing a web search on my Macbook proves to me that Google knows whether I’m in Pittsburgh, PA or Portland, OR. What Google doesn’t quite seem to understand though are the differences between, say, Pittsburgh and outlying neighborhoods or even different towns all together. For example, residents of Pleasant Hills, about 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh proper, have an address claiming Pittsburgh – so perhaps it’s understandable that Google might flub this one up, however Google seems to base results so much more heavily on content than advertised locations that you’ll find some searches for Pittsburgh [keywords] will result in listings at times coming up for Monroeville or even Cranberry, cities with their own name on their residents’ addresses and considerably far from the City of Pittsburgh itself.


Another feature I’d love to see Google implement, similarly to how you can choose to “Avoid Highways” and “Avoid Tolls” when getting directions in Google Maps, is “Local Businesses Only” or “Avoid Chains”. When I do a search in Oakland for coffee shop, I don’t want to see every Starbucks and Caribou Cafe in the area, I want to know about the Crazy Mocha right around the corner.

I’m just concerned that if Google doesn’t wise up and get street smart ASAP, they’ll find themselves down the wrong stretch of Panther Hollow late one night without a flashlight and coming up against a drunken Steely McBeam looking for the morning’s hangover booze money…

Up Next: Will Google Ever Be Smart Enough to Go Cyberdyne?