At its I/O conference in 2018, Google unveiled a new augmented reality (AR) walking navigation system for its Maps service. The feature became available to early adopters in February, and was then expanded to some members of the tech giant's Local Guides program and the Pixel community in the following month.
Now, Google has announced that 'Live View' is being publicly launched in an expanded beta starting this week. This means that all Android devices that support ARCore and iOS devices that support ARKit will soon be able to test out the system.
The new AR experience offers users the opportunity to get directions through the rear camera of their phones. Essentially, directions are determined using Google's Visual Positioning System and then overlaid on top of the 'real world' in the form of arrows and informational captions. The traditional map is also displayed near the bottom of the screen so as to keep relaying to users their general position with respect to the surroundings.
This kind of feature is pretty much unprecedented in maps services, at least in terms of a wide-spread rollout to the public, and it will certainly be interesting to see its rate of adoption once it becomes generally available. It goes without saying that Live View is primarily aimed toward pedestrians, though there is the slight, unconfirmed possibility that it might expand to further use-cases in the future.
Google has also announced some other upcoming features for Maps, including an updated Timeline and an integrated reservations tab to see all flight and hotel reservations. However, the new Timeline won't be landing on iOS devices, at least for now. In countries where Street View is available, users can expect Live View to arrive in the coming weeks.