Google buys JetPac: How does the social travel app fit in its ecosystem?

Google buys companies, startups and interesting new technology by the truck load every year and while most of it's co-opted into the great Google ecosystem, many of it is barely seen by users of the search giant's many services.


The latest acquisition is JetPac, a startup that has developed an app that will show your contextual search results from a database of social media posts.


If you are looking to search for places of interest in your immediate vicinity, you can search for very specific terms and JetPac will turn back relevant results. The app can also trawl through Facebook photos of your friends to show which places they have visited and where they had the most amount of fun, thanks to an algorithm that study the picture's content. It won't show you boring family photographs, but instead shows pictures that help make your mind up whether travelling to that place is worth it.


Search for an Irish Pub in the area, and JetPac will scour through images share on social networks to deliver results. More niche use cases also exist; the app had acquired smile recognition smarts and can tell users how happy people are at a given city.


Now the obvious question is what is Google going to do with the app, especially as the app itself will cease to exist post the takeover. One line of thinking is that it could be used in Google+, where a ton of new photo-related features have recently been added. We are talking about the likes of Stories for travel albums, Auto-Awesome filters, as well as automatic hashtags. These will obviously greatly benefit from JetPac's tech.


Another area where JetPac's algorithm could be put to use is in search results for Google Now and Google Maps, especially when it comes to nearby places of interest that would align with the users' interests. Google Now already shows you a bunch of interesting places near your hotel when travelling, and while recently Niantic Labs' Field Trip app was integrated with Google Now for enhanced travel features within the app.


Google Maps could also see some JetPac integration as users already see a list of photographs taken around a particular location in Maps. JetPac's technology could start pulling in more images and possibly more relevant images for the same.


The applications within Google's ecosystem are plenty, but it remains to be seen exactly what the company does with JetPac, which is yet another eye-popping acquisition this year.


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