(Credit: Lance Whitney)

You're checking out a restaurant, store or other nearby business on Google Maps. And you have a question about their hours, location, offerings, or some other matter. No problem. You can send and receive messages with that business without leaving the Maps app.

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Available for Google Maps for iOS and Android, the Messages option lets you send a message to a business and then read and respond to its replies. As long as a business has enabled the messaging feature in Google Maps, you can swap messages back and forth with it. Here's how it works.

First, sign into the Maps app with your Google account if you haven't already done so. Look up the business in the app. Tap its name or pin. If messaging has rolled out to your device and the business supports the feature, you'll see an icon for Message among the icons for Call, Save and Share. Tap the Message icon. Compose and then send your message.

Next, make sure notifications are enabled for Google Maps so you're notified of any responses to your message. Otherwise, you can check on your message and any replies through Maps. In Maps, tap the Hamburger icon in the upper left. Tap the Messages option in the menu. You'll see all the messages you've already sent as well as any replies from a business. Tap a reply, and you can then send a response to that business with a follow-up question or comment. Using the Message feature, you can then converse back and forth with that business.

The Message feature is still rolling out to Google Maps, so you may not see it on your device just yet. I found it on my iPhone and Android devices but not on my iPad. The other limitation is that the business must support messaging within Maps. Any business willing to receive messages this way should download and set up the Google My Business app from Google Play or the App Store.

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  1. Within Google Maps, you can send a message to any business that supports the messaging feature.
  2. You can view and respond to any replies to your message without leaving Google Maps.

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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."