Google Maps pulls cupcake calorie counter after backlash
Oct 18 2017
A Google rep told TechCrunch that the decision was "based on strong user feedback" and the calorie estimator will no longer appear in Google Maps for iOS starting this evening.
The Google search app for iOS has been updated with support for Drag and Drop on iPad and now lets you choose between Apple Maps, Google Maps, or Waze for directions.
The feature, which began rolling out to some users about a week ago, not only displayed the amount of calories users could burn by walking when they looked up a route, but also how many "mini cupcakes" those calories are worth.
The experimental feature, which was rolled out globally, expressed calorie estimates in the form of mini cupcakes, according to a screenshots posted on Twitter.
Besides triggering potentially obsessive exercise and diet habits, the calorie estimate was extremely vague, based on what an "average person" would burn-whoever or whatever that is. As many as 30 million people in the United States are estimated to have an eating disorder. For example, a mini cupcake meant 110 calories.
There can't be many occasions on which a huge tech company has added a new feature to an app - then removed it just 24 hours later after user kickback.
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. Or Google could embellish the feature to take into account details about the user's health, including general factors like age, weight, and gender. Although Google was trying to promote a healthy lifestyle, many objected to the fact there was no way to turn it off, while also pointing out that there are plenty of dedicated calorie-counting apps available should people want one.
Users have reacted badly to cupcake metric on social media describing it as "shaming" and some saying it could be a trigger for people suffering from eating disorders.