Google Maps AR navigation feature testing begins in USA for select users

Alfred Osborne
February 11, 2019

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).

Although the Google Maps AR feature was announced halfway through 2018, it has not yet arrived on any consumer devices, but The Wall Street Journal has been able to test out an early version of it.

The AR-based navigation system uses smartphone's camera, a la Google Lens, to give directions.

Google reports that it can use visual recognition to help locate you, in addition to the normal network and Global Positioning System location finding.

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Integrating this with Google Maps allow for augmented reality (AR) additions like floating arrows pointing you to the direction you need to head to.

Google Maps would then compare the buildings and landmarks with the Street View data it has gathered. The AR system asks the user to move his/her phone around to determine the exact location. However, the commercial release will only happen when the company is "completely satisfied that it's ready". Now reports suggest that the company is testing the feature with a small group of Local Guides. To ensure it doesn't consume your battery and data allowance-and for safety reasons-users will be reminded to lower their phone if it's been held up too long. It will prompt users to put it down after a short while. The lower third of the screen is dedicated to the standard overhead view of the map and your given route. The company originally introduced the AR navigation feature at a developers conference past year.

Previous year at Google I/O, Google previewed a new navigation system within Google Maps that uses AR to guide you to places.

When Google had shown the AR feature, the idea was that AR will help place the user more accurately on the Maps.

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