At Google’s ongoing I/O 2019 annual developer conference, the company made a bunch of new software and hardware announcements, one of which was a new update to Google Maps. This update lets you use your phone’s camera during navigation, which overlays augmented reality (AR) arrows in the world around you, to help guide you to your destination. This works when you select ‘Walking’ as the preferred method of travel in Google Maps. The update is rolling out to Pixel devices only at the moment, but is limited to regions that are covered in Street View. Unfortunately, this means India will not have the feature.
Google announced this at its keynote last night and also tweeted about it from its Google Maps handle. The feature was teased last year and earlier this year, we had a report about Google testing it with local guides or advanced Google Maps users. According to some of the official replies from that tweet, the feature is available globally to any Pixel users and select local guides using other smartphones. For now, there’s no information about whether iPhone models have the support.
How to use Google Maps AR walking directions
To use the feature, you simply open Google Maps, map the course of where you want to get to and tap the Walking navigation method. Then, tap Start AR and point your phone’s camera at the buildings around you. You should be able to see a giant blue directional arrow pointing you in the direction you need to go. You’ll also get a semi-circle of the traditional map, so you can keep a track of your progress.
It seems like a pretty cool feature for sure but keep in mind that this can drain your battery a lot faster. We’ve used Google Playground AR feature on Pixel phones in the past and noticed a sizeable drop in battery level, not to mention the phone heating up. If this is anything like that, then it might not be the best solution if you’re running low on battery. Still, it’s a novel feature to have and something Pixel users can brag about, for now at least.