Google Maps walking directions get Augmented Reality


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Erin Lawrence

Screenshot of Google Maps Augmented Reality view on mobile screen


As smart as our smartphones are, they can’t do everything. And while they can navigate us to just about any destination, the user interface is imperfect. Sometimes when using Google Maps walking directions, it’s hard to know if you’re walking in the right direction until you start moving. Wouldn’t it be great if Google could just point you in the right direction instantly?

What is Google Maps Augmented Reality (AR)?

Google Maps is about to make things a lot easier for you. Big changes are coming to Google Maps walking directions. Thanks to machine learning, advanced algorithms for positioning, and Google’s Street View Technology, you’re about to get specialized Augmented Reality maps and guidance for Google Maps walking directions. This new experience which Google calls “Global Localization” is one of the hottest and most talked innovations since, well, Google Maps directions. Let’s dive into it!

Related: How to save Google Maps Directions for offline use & travel

How does Google Maps AR work?

In short, using the smartphone camera as a sensor, this technology enables a more powerful and intuitive way to help people quickly determine which way to go.

How to use Google Maps walking with AR?

How does it work? The interface uses Google Street View to show the exact location of the user by ‘seeing’ nearby buildings and landmarks that are already being catalogued by Street View. Then, Augmented Reality (AR) technology guides the user on the street with directions, and arrows projected onto the view through your smartphone’s camera. This is a big improvement than the last versions of Google maps as now you don’t have to see that blue dot and then do some guesswork about where you are and in what direction you’re facing.

Gone are the days where you’d be following that blue dot, staring into your screen and then bumping into something. Using the AR camera, you can always see what’s in front of you. Google will also prompt you to put the phone down once the exact direction and location has been established.

Screenshot of Google Maps Augmented Reality view

It just seems like yesterday when those buildings Google is now using to help you ‘see’ your way around used to hinder us in getting a good location and view for maps and GPS, and frankly often caused the phone’s compass to spin wildly out of control before it could get a proper lock. Now, that Localization technique uses these buildings and  static objects to make you more aware of your whereabouts.

Related: find your new universal global address with What3Words

In announcing this new technology, Google calls it your new “Urban Canyon Guide” and asked a bunch of bloggers and reporters to join the company for an outing in San Francisco to test the new app out by tracking down a coffee shop.

The technology certainly looks appealing, and if it works as advertised, this could be a huge revolution for pedestrians and travelers in particular.Birds eye view of Google Maps Augmented Reality (AR) functionality

When is Google Maps Augmented Reality coming?

While this new technology is appealing, and showing it off to select media is a good sign, Google still hasn’t given a date when we can expect to use it. A small group of ‘Local Guides’ have access to it now but it’s still a mystery when the rest of us can get our hands on it. For now you’ll have to be content with checking out Google’s Blog for more info.

Looking for Google Maps help? Check out our helpful posts on “How to create custom Google “My Maps” for road trips & travel” for your next trip!

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