According to the news report by Forbes, a feature that has been long-awaited is now finally being added to Google Maps. However, at this time, this new feature would only be available to certain Local Guides.
Google is soon going to release an AR (augmented reality) feature on its Maps that will be walking-based. This new feature will reportedly first be made available to a few Local Guides, which is Google’s community reviewer program. These select Local Guides will act as the first testers for the search giant. Results from these tests will be used to refine the product before its public debut.
The biggest challenge that this product will face is accuracy of the surrounding areas. Navigation services at this stage are still not perfected, with many locations and directions misrepresented. Augmented reality navigation needs to be even more precise for it to work.
To overcome the issues of standard navigation technology, Google Maps AR will not just use location GPS services but also Street View data so that users’ cameras are aligned to their exact location.
The Verge gave further details about this new product. During the 2018 I/O Conference, Google debuted its Google Maps AR feature, which would give people directions in real time using their cameras.
The Wall Street Journal’s David Pierce was one of the first to try this new product. He stated that this new product was a big step in the right direction for the company.
Pierce gave a detailed description of how the new feature worked. According to him, the Google Maps AR app picked up a person’s location using GPS, and then sourced data from Street View to pinpoint a user’s exact location. Once a user’s location was accurately identified, the app would display large directional arrows and instructions on the phone screen.
Pierce also stated that the app did not allow a person to use the camera constantly. The app would instruct the user to put down the camera for a short time, during which time it would switch back to the regular Google Maps interface.
The leader of user experience at Google, Rachel Inman stated that this feature had been added to the map for instances where a person wanted to decide where they wanted to go next, or simply to get their bearings.
Google has been testing this new app and the company states that there are two challenges that they are facing – users tend to follow a line on the ground too closely and that an animated guide tended to get users to look at the phone screens exclusively. By adding the feature where they are switched back and forth between the AR feature and regular navigation, the app forces users to get their bearings in the real world.
Pierce said that the AR feature that he got to try out could change in the future and that Google had not given any timeline on which this new app would be rolled out to the public. The company said that the product would only be rolled out when it was completely satisfied that it was ready for the public.
Pierce stated that his preview of the new app led him to two key conclusions. The first one was that the biggest advantage of Google Maps AR was that users were provided with very accurate location data. The second conclusion was that this new feature would not remain long on phones, rather they would migrate to AR-capable glasses.
Companies such as Apple, Vuzix, North, Facebook and even Google have been working on the development of AR glasses, so the new Google Map AR feature could soon be available on such products.