Skip to main content

Google Maps' AR navigation is being tested by some users

Back at Google I/O this past May, one of the most intriguing announcements was a teaser of AR turn-by-turn navigation in Google Maps for more accurate results when walking. After months and months of waiting, we now have an idea of what that final product will look like.

Google's letting a select group of people test out the feature, including the folks at The Wall Street Journal. Here's how David Pearce describes his experience:

The app instructed me to move my phone around and point its camera at things across the street while it tried to figure out my location. After a few seconds, the camera seemed to recognize some landmarks and realize where it was, with remarkable precision.

Large, flashing arrows are used to show you where to walk, and when you reach your destination, a red pin will appear on your screen. At the bottom of your screen, you'll see a more traditional Maps UI so you can get really get a good understanding of where you're at and where you're going.

Ms. Inman [Google's lead for user experience on the project] said Google is still tweaking even basic things like the look of the arrows. One version of the feature laid a blue path on the ground, but Google found people tried to follow it too exactly. Another employed an adorable animated guide named Pizza Man, but he made users look at their phone too long. The team picked giant arrows because they were obvious but not distracting, but even that could change.

As neat as all of this is, WSJ notes that Google doesn't want this AR navigation to be people's primary way of getting around. A notification pops up on the screen if you're looking at your phone for too long, prompting you to keep your device down while you walk. When your phone is moved down away from your face, Maps returns to its normal, non-AR state. When you bring it back up to your face, the AR goodness resumes.

Google's currently testing the feature with select Local Guides in Maps, with no set date for a larger public release.

Are you looking forward to using AR with Google Maps?

Honor 8X review: For $250, it doesn't get much better than this

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

  • Looks cool. Hopefully this doesn't take forever to reach non-US users.
  • I could have used more accurate walking directions a few months ago. I was taking a friend to spend the night with one of her school friends, and instead of having us walk in front of the dorm, it had us go around back and hop over a wall. A 30 something looking guy coming out of a back alley with an 18 year old girl carrying pillows does not look good...
  • Meh. Nokia came out with this 7 years ago. After the novelty wore off it wasn't used much.