(Credit: Google)

You're looking up a restaurant, store, or retailer via Google Maps and have a question about the business. With the latest update to Google Maps, you can ask your question directly and see the response without having to exit the app.

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Now starting to roll out to Google Maps on both iOS and Android is a new Messages feature, as described by the search giant in a blog post. Using this tool, you can send a question, comment, or another type of note to any business that supports messaging. Any response pops up in the single Messages screen.

With so many different apps and services offered by Google, you often have to bounce from one program to another to take care of a handful of related tasks. By seeing your messages directly within Maps, you don't have to keep switching to the dedicated messaging app to connect with a business.

"Now you'll see your messages with the businesses you connect with via Business Profiles within the Google Maps app, where you're already looking for things to do and places to go or shop," Google said in its blog post. "You'll find these messages in the side menu of both Google Maps for Android and iOS. With these messages in Maps, you'll never have to worry about accidentally sending 'I love you, Mom' to that shoe store you've been sending messages to."

For the feature to work, the business you want to contact must have enabled messages. Any business that's open to receiving messages can download the Google My Business app from Google Play or the App Store.

The new tool is just starting to hit Android and iOS users, so you may not see it just yet. To check, open Google Maps and tap the hamburger icon in the upper left of the screen. If you've got it, you'll see a new setting for Messages nestled between Your contributions and Location sharing. Tap Messages to send or see a message. If not, be patient, and the update should reach you before too long.

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  1. Google is rolling out a messaging feature in its Maps app through which you can exchange messages with businesses.
  2. By accessing your messages from Maps, you can save time by not having to open the dedicated messaging app separately.

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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."