Google confirmed to BuzzFeed News that it is removing this feature due to strong user feedback. It was a test feature for iPhone users only, and will be removed later tonight from the app.
Google Maps has a new feature for walking directions. Now, it shows you how many calories you would burn if you walked:
The calorie count shows up on the map if the driving directions you've requested cover a short distance. If you already have walking selected, the calories are shown in the step-by-step directions, but not the map.
Basically, it wants to try to encourage you to walk instead of driving by showing you how many calories you'd burn.
And then...it tells you how many "mini cupcakes" the calories you'd burn would add up to.
A walk from my apartment in Brooklyn to Times Square would earn me *almost* four mini cupcakes.
If you tap the "..." option next to the tip about how many calories a walk would burn, here's what it says:
People are not happy.
While Google might think this feature encourages healthy habits, for some, it feels, well, judge-y. And it could be very a negative (or even triggering) experience for people who have an eating disorder. As many as 30 million people in the US are estimated to have an eating disorder.
And although this new Maps feature might sound similar to how some restaurants are required to show calorie counts on menus, this is more aggressive. It doesn't just show you the calorie count of the potential walk, it shows you what it amounts to in junk food – and in cupcakes, a type of food that is particularly associated with women.
And for people who don't want to see the calorie-counting feature, there appears to be no way to turn it off.
Not everyone in the BuzzFeed Tech News team has this feature on their phone yet – it's likely that this is in testing with a limited number of people right now.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.