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Google Maps: Google unlocks AR feature for Local Guides

Google Maps: Google unlocks AR feature for Local Guides

Google's AR feature for Google Maps is getting a bit closer to being released to all users with a first alpha release for Local Guides. Google had shown the function that displays map data in the camera's viewfinder about nine months ago for its own developer conference. Since then, it had become quiet about the feature.

Google has that Wall Street Journal (Paywall) given a first public preview of Augmented Reality (AR) in Google Maps. On the streets of San Francisco, the AR feature should help navigate on foot to a coffee shop.

User must show Google Maps the environment

Once the desired destination has been selected in Google Maps, the new version of the app will show the “Start AR” option, which will replace the familiar map view with real-world graphics instead of looking through the camera.

For this to work, Google Maps takes a few seconds to analyze the environment and, in conjunction with the data obtained via GPS, to determine the current position. To do this, the smartphone has to be moved back and forth a few seconds in front of the user so that Google Maps can recognize striking buildings and sights. As a result, the app knows exactly where the user is and where the AR graphics need to be displayed.

Google Maps must first recognize the environment
Google Maps must first recognize the environment (Image: Wall Street Journal)

AR feature is intended for the first meters

Next, large arrows in three dimensions help you make the right first step. According to Google, the AR feature was designed for just such situations, such as the first few meters after leaving the subway station. Once in the next street, a blue sign with an indication in meters will help you to navigate further until the next intersection. The destination marked as in the previous version of Google Maps without AR a big red pin.

Google Maps calls for AR break

So that users do not stare too long at their smartphone or cover the entire distance with a view of the display, Google Maps quickly demands that the smartphone be lowered. Google Maps then automatically switches back to the normal 2D view of the map to reduce the safety aspect as well as the load on the battery of the smartphone.

Safety Notice in Google Maps
Safety Notice in Google Maps (Image: Wall Street Journal)

Selected Local Guides can use AR feature

The first public alpha release of AR features on Google Maps is for select Local Guides. So Google refers to a “worldwide community of explorers sharing tips, photos and knowledge about new places on Google Maps.“How to become a Local Guide, Google explains here.

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