Though the current Google Maps
is quite helpful when it comes to navigation, it still has its own hiccups. For starters, the blue dot locator can be a bit confusing at times, as it's not too accurate in pointing out the exact direction a user is facing. Hence, there's the risk of going in the wrong direction.
During last year's I/O developer conference
, Google showcased an improved Maps navigation using a device's camera. The said feature uses augmented reality to show directions, and now the previous demo is starting to take shape.
Walking toward wrong streets or alleys will soon be a thing of the past, thanks to Google Maps new AR-powered navigation.
The Wall Street Journal got the chance to try out Google Maps with AR. According WSJ's David Pierce, they tested
an early version, and it "isn't likely to be your primary turn-by-turn option" but "it's a huge step in the right direction for Google Maps."
So how does it exactly work? The AR-powered Maps uses a phone's camera along with Google Street View data to help locate an exact spot. Aside from GPS, the app also uses Visual Positioning System (VPS) to pinpoint a user's location. The app will then overlay large 3D arrows that point toward a specific direction the user is going.
However, the screen will start to go dark if a user holds the device up for too long. According to Google, this is for safety purposes and to save battery and mobile data as well.
The Google Maps AR Navigation is not yet available to everyone, though. Google told WSJ that it'll be rolling out soon, but for now, only local guides or trusted community reviewers can use it.
AR And Conventional Navigation
While the Google Maps AR feature is a handy tool when it comes to confusing and unfamiliar locations, the company said that it's not meant to replace conventional navigation tools. Google also warned that the AR navigation shouldn't be used while driving, but just for walking directions.
Pierce also said
that this feature won't likely be a mainstay on smartphones, but it could be available on wearable glasses that are AR capable
, such as the Google Glass.