In a move that could revolutionize how we navigate our cities, Google has introduced a new augmented reality navigation feature for its Maps app. The new feature, which was announced in the company's annual Google I/O developer conference, uses the phone's camera and GPS to overlay directions onto the real world, making it easier for users to navigate through unfamiliar areas.
AR Navigation Based on User Location
The AR feature, which is still in beta, uses the phone's camera to show the real world with AR markers indicating the user's location and the direction they need to go. A tourist in a new city would only need to scan their field of view with their phone to see reliable directions to their next destination! The feature will also provide visual cues to help users navigate, such as arrows indicating turns and street names floating above buildings.
According to Google, the AR feature will work best in areas with good GPS reception and plenty of visual cues, such as buildings or landmarks. It will be ideal for urban settings, at least for now. The company has also added a new mode for walking directions that shows users their direction and distance to their destination, making it easier to follow the path.
Google’s Focus on Augmented Reality
The AR navigation feature is part of a larger push by Google to incorporate AR technology into its products. The company has been working on AR for several years, with projects such as Project Tango and ARCore aimed at bringing AR to smartphones and other devices.
The addition of AR to Google Maps could have major implications for how we navigate our cities. Traditional GPS directions can leave room for mistakes for individuals in a new city. If someone knows they need to turn in 50 feet, but they aren’t sure which of two nearby streets is the correct one, they might be left confused. In addition, if a tourist is in an area where they don’t speak the local language, an inability to read street signs can be problematic. The feature could make it easier for tourists to explore new cities, and for people with disabilities to navigate through unfamiliar areas. It could even be the start of a bigger wave of augmented reality tourism.
Google has not yet announced when the AR navigation feature will be available to the public, but given the company's track record, it's likely to be soon. For now, users can sign up for the beta version of the feature to try it out for themselves.