Google is introducing a new Maps feature that turns regular Street View into an interactive map complete with walking directions.

The new feature, “Live View,” uses augmented reality to overlay directions and instructions on the real world. Tech Crunch reported that Google is launching its beta version, and will soon be available to Android and iOS device that have support for AR.

Android users who want to try the feature should have a device that has support for Google’s ARcore, while iPhone or iPad users eager to test Live View should have ARKit-compatible devices. MacRumors noted that Apple-branded devices capable of using the feature include the iPhone 6s and later, all iPad Pro models, as well as 5th and 6th generation iPads.

Additionally, users who want to test the feature must have Google Street View available wherever they are located.

How it works

The feature was initially revealed earlier this year, and an alpha version was made available to Pixel smartphone users as well as to Google Maps Local Guides. Users who download the update can activate the feature by opening Maps, tapping on any nearby location, tapping the “Directions” button followed by “Walking.” A “Live View” option will appear at the bottom, and tapping on it activates the feature.

After activating the feature, users will be prompted to point the camera on their device at buildings or signs across the street where they are standing. The AI will determine their precise location and where they are facing based on what the camera sees, and then gives them directions pointing to their target destination.

Live View shows street names, directional arrows, and useful information like distance until the next turn or from the target destination. The AI, via augmented reality, overlays the information on the real scene in front using big markers and easy to read labels.

It’s worth noting that the feature wasn’t designed so that people will keep holding their phones or tablets in front of them while walking. Users will only need to put their devices up if they don’t know where they are and are in need of directions. This feature will be very helpful for people walking in unfamiliar locations.

Google Maps
Google Maps has a new feature that makes walking in unfamiliar territory less scary. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic