In 2018, Google I/O gave a sneak peek of how augmented reality (AR) in Maps could look like. The new feature showed how, in future, phones could orient users using the cameras. The demo showed an advanced navigation system that could direct users and use pop-ups showing businesses and shops nearby as well. A energetic fox guide in the new maps was an added bonus.
Wall Street Journal reported that the demo is “an early version of Maps with augmented reality (AR)”. However, the new feature is not too different from the previous one Google previewed for developers in May 2018; the Maps could be seen on the lower half of the screen while the top half-navigates the real-world surroundings of the user.
With some small modifications, the blinking arrow system, which used to direct users to turn, is quite similar to the ones from Google’s earlier presentation.
However, there a few new details about this demo version of the feature, noted Journal’s David Pierce. For instance, as soon as the AR version of Maps has oriented itself on the basis of surrounding landmarks and directed Pierce in the right way, the feature prompted Pierce to keep his phone down while he was walking, in order to avoid smacking into a passerby.
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The Journal quoted UX design lead at Google Rachel Inman who is of the opinion that the app should be used more by users to explore more new places. However, the fox guide was nowhere to be seen on the app when the Journal tested it.
During the I/O conference, when the search engine giant showed off the feature, Google’s Aparna Chennapragada observed that the project’s team was exploring the “idea” of introducing digital guides.
As per the Journal, one version of the app had an “animated guide named Pizza Man”, however users looked at their phone more because of this.
Therefore, it remains unclear if Google is going to add animals or say, Pizza Man as guides in the future.
While a small, select group tests the AR version of Maps, it can be said with certainty that the feature is not going to be officially released anytime soon, the Journal added. It is also expected that the feature could see changes as well.