Google Maps is finally launching its augmented reality foot navigation to a wider audience. The feature was announced in Google I / O 2018 (yes, & # 39; 18), entered private tests in February and launched for Pixel phones in Google I / O 2019. Now, normal people will have access to AR navigation , since the function is launch in beta on Android devices and iPhones.
The AR navigation function is called "Live View" and is designed to help you start your navigation on foot. The GPS is excellent for setting your location on a map, but nothing about the GPS determines in which direction you are looking. To help with this, phones have built-in compasses, which are course to set their course, but mobile compasses, especially on Android phones, are crap. Compasses work by detecting the Earth's magnetic field, and although that's fine when you have a normal analog compass, building a compass on a smartphone means surrounding it with electronics and several real magnets, which can make getting an accurate reading difficult. . When you leave the Starbucks and just want to know if your first step is to the left or right, looking at your compass turning in a circle without help is not useful.
Therefore, Google Maps Live View throws all those things from the compass out the window and instead drives the directional direction with cameras and sensors. Google calls the system "VPS" or "Visual positioning system." Your phone's GPS reduces your location, points your camera at the world and Google compares the camera footage with the large amount of visual data you have from things like Street View. This gives VPS its position and direction in 3D space, assuming Google has the data for its location. And that makes it much more accurate than a compass.
Since the camera is still shooting, I could also use it to display a super cool augmented reality interface. Google overlays the camera's power at the top of a map and draws directional arrows on the camera's power. The first experiments made you follow a virtual character, but unfortunately there is no guide mode in the delivery version.
Google says the new Maps feature is being implemented on "Android and iOS devices that support ARCore and ARKit."
List image of The Wall Street Journal