Do you frequently get lost because you’re not good with directions?
Even after you’ve checked Google Maps for the millionth time and swear you’re going the right way, yet still end up going in circles?
Maybe this will help to lead you back onto the right path – Google has launched an augmented reality, or AR, function in Google Maps.
It shows you which direction to go on the screen after scanning the landmarks around you.
It’s basically the same technology that you use in Pokemon Go to catch the Pikachu randomly sitting on your sofa.
With the launch of Google’s new Pixel 3a and 3a XL phones on 8 May, new updates came along with it, one being the new AR function in Maps.
It’s only a preview-only exclusive to the Pixel, for now, however, so you’ll either have to wait for it to roll out to more devices or buy a Pixel phone if you’re that desperate for it.
Welcome To The Future
It’s rather simple to use this function, actually, just as it’s meant to be.
To properly use the function, you just have to make sure the place has good lighting, is covered in Google’s Street View, and that your phone has a good data connection.
You can simply type in your final destination on Google Maps on your Pixel phone, and it will give you an option to “Start AR” under the directions for walking if the new software is available for you.
Next, you can point your camera at buildings or street signs across or near you, so that Google can scan your surroundings and tell where you are.
Big blue and white arrows will then show up on your screen to direct you where you should walk next and will even show you which street you are currently on, and which roads you should take note of as you continue on your journey. There will still be a mini map at the bottom of the screen, should you need to double check if you’re going the right way.
Fair warning, however – it may not be able to recognise semi indoor areas either so do face your camera towards somewhere with recognisable landmarks or signs!
Best Working Conditions
The feature also works best with permanent landmarks such as buildings and street signs and not trees or plants, for the appearances of those could change easily in a matter of months depending on the season and other factors.
Places like Orchard Road definitely make the cut, but it even works well with natural places with no buildings such as Sentosa’s beaches.
Most of the time, a big red pin marker will appear on the screen to alert you that you have reached your destination successfully.
It’s like a huge congratulations sign to tell you that hey, you finally made it here!
For those concerned over whether walking while constantly staring at your phone for directions will cause accidents especially since the roads are unfamiliar, Google’s implemented a safety feature for users.
Google has said that the directional AR arrows will only pop up only during “moments of confusion”, for example when a turn is approaching, so that you won’t have to look at your phone excessively while walking on the streets.
While you’re walking, you will also be prompted to put your phone down and be alert of your surroundings so you won’t crash into other pedestrians or worse, have cars crash into you.
While this new AR navigation will take up more of your data and battery life, it’s quite a noteworthy feature that would help to make navigation simpler and more convenient.
It’s especially useful when you’re in a foreign country and you can’t understand the street signs, much less where to go. You don’t have to awkwardly ask random passersby for directions in broken tongue either, yay!
There’s no telling on when the new feature will be available for Google Maps systems that aren’t on the Pixel phones yet, sadly, so we still have to wait and see if it will be implemented permanently.
If you’re still lost even after following these directions in a platform that’s as realistic as it gets, I’d suggest that you stay safe and never go anywhere alone.
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