Google Maps AR-powered navigation testing starts

Google Maps AR navigation feature is now being tested

The Wall Street Journal reports that it will be available to Local Guides soon, and "will come to everyone only when Google is satisfied that it's ready".

Google is letting some of its select users test the augmented reality (AR) navigation feature for Google Maps - a feature that would provide people with directions from the phone's camera in real time.

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Google's user-experience lead for the AR project, Rachel Inman, told the WSJ the feature is not meant to be your primary navigation tool. Describing his experience, he wrote, "It was as if Maps had drawn my directions onto the real world, though nobody else could see them". Even so, the new interface won't allow you to continually use the camera for AR, and will insist that you lower the phone, where the more traditional map interface will then be displayed. The upper two-thirds of the display within the app shows you the live feed from your camera; then overlays for street names, business names, and directional areas are presented that point to your intended destination. The key point here is that, using AR, it will better know which way you are looking, without having to rely on the often hit and miss compass. This way, the feature also helps save your phone's battery as the experience simply switches to the regular map interface when you put your phone down. To use it, you lift the phone in front of your eyes and the software gives you directions via arrows which show where you need to go. However, users need not look at their smartphones constantly. The system too reportedly warns users against this. You'll get real-time views with the AR navigation feature, which will make it easier if you're approaching a confusing intersection or a complex cluster of landmarks. This move is also created to conserve battery power (and likely your sanity).

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