When I go on vacation to a new city, I always pull out my phone and fire up Google Maps for walking directions when I’m wandering the city blocks to find a specific restaurant, shop, museum, or landmark. At Google’s I/O 2019 conference, they unveiled a brand new walking directions feature that makes it far easier to interpret the map as you follow along your route.
Normally, when using the walking directions feature of Google Maps, you stare at a little blue dot that is supposed to represent your position amongst a grid of city streets and buildings. The blue dot isn’t usually very accurate for me…it periodically jumps around the street as if it can’t decide which side of the street I am on, and it almost always face the wrong way as I walk down a street which makes me wonder if I’m heading the right or wrong direction. Well, no more.
Google Maps has integrated an “Augmented Reality” mode for its walking directions. What this means is, it uses your phone’s camera and screen to make an electronic “looking glass” for you to see the walking directions overlaid on the real world! I tried this out on my Pixel 3 and it’s really cool how it works. First, you open the Google Maps app (only works on Pixel devices for now) and input your desired destination. Select the new directions button and then the “Start AR” button to bring up the new augmented reality walking mode. The device will pull up your camera and ask you to hold your phone up to scan your surroundings. It will identify where you are on the street by analyzing your surroundings and then bring up your walking directions. To use the directions, hold your phone up in front of you and you will see a walking path and arrows on your screen overlaid on the real world so you’ll never miss a turn again!
My wife and I are going to Tokyo again this year and this app will come in handy, for sure, in foreign cities. No more getting lost and needing to ask for directions.
Senior Front-end Developer