(Credit: Lance Whitney)

You're reading a review of a local restaurant in Google Maps. And that review may be helpful. But you'd like to know more. Is the restaurant family friendly? Does it offer music? Can you get gluten-free meals? A new hashtag feature in Google Maps could answer some of those questions.

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New to the Android version of Google Maps is the ability to add hashtags to your review of a restaurant or other business. The feature works the same as on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. You type the # symbol followed by the word or phrase you want to use as a way of providing more information about that business. For example, you could add the hashtag #familyfriendly, #livemusic, or #glutenfree to indicate that a restaurant has those attributes. On the flip side, people who read your review can learn more about the business this way and tap on a hashtag to find other businesses that offer the same features.

Google has been sprucing up its Maps app lately to turn it into a one-stop shop for directions, dining, business messaging, and more. The goal is to reduce your need to open and juggle other apps to get all the information you seek.

The hashtag feature launched around the world in Google Maps for Android a little more than a week ago, according to TechCrunch. So far, Google has officially informed only members of the Google Maps Local Guides program through which people receive rewards for sharing reviews and other information about businesses they use.

People can add up to five hashtags per review and are advised to place them at the end of the review where they're easier to read. You can add hashtags to new reviews and insert them in older reviews. To use a hashtag, simply type your review of the business. At the end of the review, insert the # symbol and start typing the hashtag. If your tag matches any existing ones, Google Maps displays a list of matches for you to choose from. Otherwise, continue typing your hashtag.

If you see a hashtag in someone else's review, tap on it to find other businesses with that feature. You can also search by hashtag. Type a full hashtag such as #familyfriendly in the search field, and Google Maps shows you a list of restaurants with that tag.

The hashtag feature just rolled out, so you may not yet find a lot of reviews that incorporate them. But their use will likely spread over time.

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  1. Google Maps now lets you add hashtags to your reviews to provide further information about a restaurant or other business.
  2. People can tap on or search for a hashtag to find businesses with that attribute.

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Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books - "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time" and "Teach Yourself VISUALLY LinkedIn."