Google is letting select users test out the new Augmented Reality (AR) navigation feature on its Maps product. First announced at the I/O developer conference in 2018, Google Maps’ AR navigation feature aims to provide more accurate directions by mixing AR with computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI).
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Google Maps AR navigation beta testing
The Wall Street Journal managed to test out “an early version” of Google Maps with AR and has published details on this feature would work. The AR navigation mode uses the phone camera and GPS location to display arrows in the real world for navigation.
Essentially one can point the camera in their real world surroundings and Google Maps will overlay navigation instructions on top of that. According to the report, one would need to hold up their phone and scan their surroundings.
Google Maps would then compare the buildings and landmarks with the Street View data it has gathered. After it has done this, it then creates directions for the user based on the location.
The report in WSJ also notes that Google will make this feature available to “a few Local Guides” soon. The company has not officially announced when the AR feature will out to all Google Maps users, with WSJ saying this will only happen when the company is sure that the feature is “ready.”
According to the report, the app does not allow the user to rely on the camera for too long. It will prompt users to put it down after a short while. The Google Maps app will then start displaying its regular map interface when one does so. The idea is to help users with short-term directions.
As pointed out this feature was first shown at Google’s I/O developer conference last year in May 2018, but has not officially rolled out, and it has been close to a year since it was announced.
When Google had shown the AR feature, the idea was that AR will help place the user more accurately on the Maps. This would be useful especially for those who were new to a city or needed guidance when walking around.
The AR feature is supposed to pop-ups names of surrounding businesses from the location, even has a fox guide to help the user navigate in the real-world by relying on the AR element on the map.