GOOGLE HAS started beta testing an AR navigation option for Google Maps with a select band of lucky users.
The feature, which was first trailed at Google I/O 2018, would do away with all that faffing about with maps and instead let you see the directions on the screen, overlaid on the streets themselves.
The service uses GPS, and then photo recognition allows it to match your exact location against Google Streetview.
The Verge reports that at the moment, it can only be used for short periods, with your phone actually telling you to stop using it at which point it switches back to the regular map interface. It's designed less for turn-by-turn directions, but rather for those "oh man, I can't get my bearings" moments which are familiar to anyone who has ever left the London Underground by the wrong exit (which is usually all of them).
Google is said to be reticent to offer a full turn-by-turn, as users can find themselves following the line on the ground, instead of sticking to the pavement (sidewalk for our US readers) and could end up walking into people, or worse, vehicles.
At present, the beta is being offered to a select number of it's Google Maps Local Guides, presumably ones that have reached a high level of geographical enlightenment.
There's no timeline for a proper rollout. At present, it remains a work in progress, and could look completely different by the time it becomes the norm, which will only happen when ‘Google is satisfied that it's ready'.
So like a Stone Roses album then.
Despite the commercial failure of its own Google Glass product, it's thought that Google has its eyes trained firmly on smart glasses, and the finished product could well end up on head-up displays from a variety of manufacturers, once that technology has matured. μ
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