Yesterday I went out to check out different areas in Osaka, Japan. I am using Google Maps regularly to get to places in Osaka. It just makes my life so easy. I know exactly which train I need to take, which place to turn and how to get exactly to the right place. This navigation was designed for walking, not for car navigation.
Anyways, I found out that I have the Augmented Reality (AR) feature enabled. This feature is called “Live View”. What it essentialy does is displaying on-screen signs, which mixes with the camera stream. This is why it’s called “Augmented Reality”. The virtual content seems like an integrated part of the real world.
Google Maps Live View Video Demonstration
Here is a video of me navigating in the streets of Osaka using Google Maps Live View.
So for example, when I need to turn right, Google Maps Live View mode will show an arrow on the camera’s live view. It points to the direction I need to go. If I need to continue walking straight, Google Maps AR feature will display a blue sign with the distance to the location.
It’s Nice, But Still Feels Experimental
In order for it to work, you need to point the device forward. It doesn’t work as the regular navigation where you can hold the phone down. Google Needs to project the virtual content at the right place like its part of the real world. It doesn’t make sense using it in another way.
This would be great at the time when Mixed Reality glasses are common and AR Cloud technology will be a common technology. We are getting there, and those technologies already exist. The thing is that we don’t have any consumer Augmented Reality (AR) glasses that will allow us to consume that experience hand-free.
Of course, I didn’t hold the device and walked all the way, nor Google recommends doing so. You also have a miniaturized view of the standard navigation at the bottom of the screen.
If you have this feature enable, try it out. It might be also helpful for navigating your way in the streets.