If you open up Google Maps, you should see that a few new tools have being made available on the application. Most of them focus on Live View, which is a feature that Google rolled out to Maps last year, but given the pandemic, it may not have been used as frequently as the company may have hoped.
Regardless, Google is hoping that the addition of augmented reality (AR) to Live View will improve the overall experience of the feature itself.
This as an augmented reality view of the surroundings will mean that pins and directional arrows that appear in Maps will correspond more accurately to where they should be in real life, which should assist with navigation too.
“We launched Live View last year, and since then it’s helped people get around efficiently–especially during the pandemic, when getting from place to place as directly as possible is top of mind,” notes Mirko Ranieri, product manager for Google Maps, in a recent blog post.
“Thanks to augmented reality (AR), you can see arrows, directions, and distance markers placed right on top of your world so you spend less time figuring out which way you should be headed,” adds Ranieri.
There is also a nifty AR aspect that identifies landmarks when they come up in the Live View, which too should help when it comes to orientating yourself in a new city, according to Google.
With international travel extremely limited at the moment, it remains to be seen how these new tools will improve the overall experience of Live View, but it seems like Google is applying some of the tricks we use to see in older Nokia Lumia devices and its Here Maps application, which offered up a similar augmented reality experience, although it was not truly “live”.
Along with the integration of AR into Live View, Google Maps will also be getting the ability to share location info with users outside of the Pixel smartphone ecosystem.
Available to users who had compatible Pixel devices last month as part of Android 11, Google confirms that the feature is set for a wider release on Android and iOS devices, although a precise date for such, has not been disclosed at this stage.
Either way, once things return to a relative state of normalcy, Google Maps will have some new features worth trying out.