Google Testing Walking Navigation with Maps App AR

This isn’t too much of a surprise that this is in the works, is it? Google announced on Monday that it’s testing an update to Google Maps, specifically with a feature for walking navigation using AR. As you walk, your smartphone will superimpose AR directions on your camera view. The technology is there, making you almost wonder this feature isn’t already in existence.

Testing Google Maps AR

The feature was announced initially nearly a year ago last May at Google’s I/O developer conference. Monday they announced they are beginning to roll out the featured to a few “Local Guides,” a group of users who contribute local information and test new features.

Anyone who has tried to follow the walking directions on Google Maps can attest that it’s not always the easiest to follow. It’s difficult to see which way you’re facing with relation to the map.

I was in a group once trying to follow the directions which we knew to be right down the street from the train station. We turned the wrong way, misunderstanding the blue dot, when exiting the train station that didn’t exit to the street, and walked many blocks in the cold. We ended up catching a cab to take us where we needed to go because we were all turned around.


This new feature looks like it would solve that with the camera view superimposed with directions as well as big arrows showing the correct way to turn.

“You’re trying to figure out where you are relative to the world,” said Google Maps product manager Joanna Kim. “But that blue dot doesn’t always really tell you where you are.”

With this new Google Maps AR feature, you just enter in an address like you normally would, enter walking directions mode, and hit the button to begin the AR. Holding your phone in front of you, you’ll see both a camera view as well as a traditional map. Your phone will vibrate and add arrows as it guides you to your destination.

You don’t even need to hold your phone out in front of you the whole time – only at the point you need it to confirm where to turn and that you’re going the right way. In fact, the phone even warns you to put the phone down if you leave the AR mode on too long.

Google’s Test

At this time there is no timeline for a more universal release for the Google Maps AR feature. Along with their testing group, they also let several journalists try it out, so there’s hope that it isn’t too far away, but since they didn’t provide a timeline, maybe it is.

What do you think of this new walking navigation feature for Google Maps? Is this something you’re looking forward to? Have you been wishing for better walking navigation with Google Maps? Jump in the comments section below and let us know what you think!

Image Credit: Google

Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

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