Google Maps AR will use your phone’s camera to point you in the right direction

Google will be rolling out the latest update to the Google Maps app, which will harness the power of Augmented Reality or AR, that aims to lead people in the right direction effectively.

The Google Maps AR update is called ”Live View,” and is starting to make its way on iPhones and an extensive array of Android devices.

Notably, Live View will be available to all iOS and Android devices that have system-level support for AR. On iOS, that means ARKit-compatible devices, and on Androidthat means any smartphones that support Google’s ARcore.

Furthermore, the location people are looking to use Live View must have Google Maps’ ‘Street View.’ If there’s no Google Street View in your area, the AR navigation won’t work. 

Live View allows users to maximize Google Maps by taking advantage of the augmented reality concept through their smartphone’s camera.

Users will see, through their phone’s camera, real-time augmented reality overlays showing how far to walk and where to turn next to get from their current location to their destination.

It basically works like the regular Google Maps app, but instead of following two-dimensional dots on the screen as you walk, users will have images and text displayed on their screens to guide them through.

Mostly, the update will be an excellent feature for people who needs to get to their indicated destination but is very unfamiliar about the surroundings.

Source: TechCrunch

Getting started with the Live View feature is almost exactly the same with how you would typically type in a location in Google Maps.

Once you have chosen a destination and pressed walk, instead of pressing ’Start,’ users will have to tap the new ’Start AR’ button.

However, the app will not show directions right away. It will first need to adjust to the current environment to accurately determine where you are. So for the first few moments, the AR will ask you to put your phone up and point it at the street in front of you.

A few moments later, the screen will slowly show a circular cut out of a two-dimension map at the bottom and start to show signs and directions to guide you to your destination.

Prominently, the Live View feature shows users where to go using superimposed arrows and directions, which can be seen over a real-time feed over real-life images from the camera.

If people keep following the directions, it should be able to lead you to the coffee shop or pub you’re trying to get to.

But for instances where you still going the wrong direction, Google Maps AR will show you a huge.

Furthermore, Google Maps AR will show you road names and distances in superimposed images as well.

To do this, Google employs massive artificial intelligence to work in the background. Primarily, to help Google Maps AR to pinpoint your coordinates, Maps uses your phone’s rough GPS location and cross-references it with Street View’s vast image database to determine exactly where you are.

Then, to localize you, the system compares features in the database to imagery from the live camera feed. Using machine learning, it can discern between transient features, such as dynamic lighting and construction work, and the permanent features of the scene.

In simple terms, AI identifies what you can see, while the GPS helps put you in position on the map.

For safety purposes, Google will not be allowing users to consistently be starting at their phones for the whole duration of their walk.

Instead, the feature will only be running for shorts bursts at a time before it notifies the user to put down their phones.

In particular, Google is advising users to maintain vigilance still as they walk through unfamiliar territory. Mainly, to avoid running into other people, obstacles, or be an open bait for potential thieves.

So, when you drop the phone to a more natural position—like when you’re reading a text—Google Maps will shift back into the standard 2D map view. Hold up the phone like you’re taking a portrait photo of what’s in front of you, and AR mode comes back in.

Google Maps AR navigation was first demoed at Google I/O in 2018, getting a tease in early 2019.

Earlier this year, Google launched a beta version of Live View. However, it was only available on Google Pixel devices and for Local Guides. Local Guides are an opt-in group of users who contribute reviews, photos, and places while helping Google fact check location information in exchange for early access to features like this.

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