Back in May, Google unveiled an innovative navigation system that used the phone's camera to provide GPS directions on augmented reality. Although the demo was very promising, the function was not expected to be immediately available, even for testing. However, the company now lets select people, mainly local Guides with access to a preview version of Maps, use the feature and David Pierce of the Wall Street Journal was among the lucky ones to make a first attempt.
We all walked for what looked like miles in the wrong direction before realizing that the phone's compass went to berzerk and brought us the wrong way. These days are almost over, as the AR-based Google guide is gradually making its way into our lives. Although the version tested by WSJ is not final, it helps us to get a better idea of what's coming.
The future version of the Maps application will allow you to access a special AR mode via a dedicated button or by picking up the phone. At the beginning you will be asked to move your phone so that it can recognize the surrounding landmarks to compare them with the GPS position and compass data. The app will then display the camera's input on the screen and overlay the arrows to the destination. A traditional map will still be shown at the bottom of the screen so you can have a bird's eye view of where you're headed. Google does not expect you to use this feature for the entire drive, but rather you want you to navigate more easily between complex intersections. If you continue to walk with the camera pointed at the road, the app will ask you to finally lower the device to save the battery, as it is supposed to use it only in a poor way
Although this function seems to be exclusive for pedestrian directions for now I'd like to use it while I drive. I've actually grown so used to the new Mercedes-Benz-based MBUX (which you can see below) that I can not imagine going back to a traditional navigation system. I believe that Google will work on additional security features before allowing you to use this device on your phone, as you probably would not want to keep the phone on while you drive!
We can not wait to see this launch to the masses, and we'll let you know as soon as you can take it for a ride.