Google introduced a new feature to Google Maps on iPhone this week, only to remove it within 24 hours following user complaints.
The feature was designed around encouraging users to be more active by displaying how many calories could be burned by walking to a chosen destination.
On top of that, Google Maps put the calorie counts into perspective by converting them to mini cupcakes.
For example, if a walk is going to burn 400 calories, Google Maps would show that you’re going to burn off almost 4 mini cupcakes.
Users who received this update before it was swiftly removed felt as though it was shaming people into walking more, while potentially triggering those with eating disorders.
Others argued that it sent a negative message about eating — that desserts can only be enjoyed if followed by the appropriate amount of exercise.
What made matters worse for those who didn’t appreciate the feature is that there was no option to disable it. It was turned on by default and could not be turned off.
Google Maps’ calorie count feature was only released to select iPhone users as part of a limited test, but the outrage it caused led to it being removed in less than 24 hours.
The rollout of this feature may have had a warmer reception if Google had chosen to do a few things differently.
People from all walks of life generally don’t like to be reminded of calories, whether it’s how many they’re consuming or how many they could be burning.
If Google Maps had made the feature optional from the start it may have found an audience amongst those who appreciated it.
Instead, Google took a different route and the backlash was heard loud and clear.
Perhaps Google will try testing this feature again in the future, but not until the dust settles from the failure of the first test.
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