Una Ruzic
by on September 26, 2019
Navigating the streets of unfamiliar cities can be challenging even if you’re using some of the commercially available maps. So, it’s useful to actually know how the building or object you want to reach looks like in reality, and sometimes flat maps don’t do justice to the environment and you don’t actually know where to turn. Enter Google Maps AR! This feature has been available since the beginning of the year to some local guides, while in May it rolled out but was exclusive to the users of its Pixel smartphones. As of August 2019, upgraded Google Maps with AR support can be used on both iOS and Android devices. Why Is It Such a Big Deal? Augmented reality has been around for quite some time, but it gained widespread popularity thanks to the Pokemon Go phenomenon which took the world by storm back in 2016. It was then that the global audience had an opportunity to realize the potential this technology holds. Three years later, Google Maps brought this technology to the displays of its users with a more serious purpose. This new feature uses a phone’s camera to scan the surrounding area and identify the user’s location in order to show arrows and signs and point them in the right direction. Given that sometimes it can be difficult to understand where you should take your next turn, and what “sharp left” actually refers to, it’s great to know that by holding up your phone to your eye level and turning on your cam app, you’ll be able to see you’re the real world around but enriched, that is, augmented, with arrows and signposts which show you where exactly you should be going. As we all remember numerous accidents that happened to people while they were playing Pokemon Go, it’s only logical to ask how safe it is to use this app and how to prevent tripping over an obstacle, slipping on the wet pavement, or bumping into other pedestrians or, even worse, electric scooters that you might cross path with these days. Google Maps take all these factors into consideration and ensures that these arrows are displayed only in potential moments of confusion, that is when you start your route, when there’s a turn approaching, or when you’re about to arrive at your destination. At other times, if you still hold your phone up, an alert pops up reading “For your safety, keep your phone down while you walk.” This way, it prevents people from staring in their smartphone displays without being aware of what is happening around them. How Does It Work? Basically, it’s pretty much the same as with your regular 2D maps. You hold your phone down while you’re walking and follow the instructions being read out loud and shown on the map, and if you don’t exactly understand where you should cross the street or turn, you should lift your phone and point your camera at buildings around yourself and scan them. While the AR feature is active, your regular map turns into a small circle at the bottom of your screen. It’s recommended to point your camera at some permanent structures such as cafes, banks, or residential buildings, as, obviously, trees and shrubs won’t help the app recognize your location. The application then tries to figure out where you are exactly and you’ll see multicolored dots on your screen while it’s working. Once Google Maps identify your location, big arrows will show up on your screen telling you which way to go precisely. When you reach your destination, an animation will pop up and let you know about that. It’s also a nice touch that if you’re asking for directions to a café, restaurant, or any other establishment, the app will offer you to check out photos and customer reviews before you walk in. As you can see, the annoying blue-dot problem which used to confuse you and leave you wondering whether your destination is maybe across the street or even in another block. With the new AR feature available on both Android and iOS operating systems, Google Maps will also improve the accuracy of your location, meaning that this upgrade will significantly improve user experience and make every traveler’s life easier. references:
Post in: software, Technology
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