Google unveiled a new augmented reality feature for Maps, but it’s only coming to Pixel phones for now (GOOG, GOOGL)

Google Maps AR
Google Maps’ AR feature is designed for walking directions.

Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider

  • Google‘s Pixel smartphones can use new Google Maps augmented reality features to display direction overlays on your surroundings.
  • Using the phone’s camera, Google Maps will identify your location and place signs and arrows to show you where you need to go.
  • The feature is still in a test phase, and only works in well-lit outdoor areas with a recently published Google Maps Street View. For now at least, only Pixel users will be able to use it.
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Google Maps has new augmented reality features that will let users display directions directly over their surroundings using their smartphone camera.

Sabrina Ellis, Google’s vice president of product management, revealed Google Maps AR during the Google I/O conference on Tuesday. Google Maps AR is currently exclusive to Google Pixel smartphones, starting with the new Pixel 3a as well as the Pixel 3, and Pixel 3 XL. The feature will go live on Tuesday.

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Google Maps AR is designed for walking directions. Once a destination is set, users can simply tap “Start AR” to activate the augmented reality features. Maps will use the Pixel camera to determine where you are, then show signs and arrows to guide you to your destination. The AR directions rely on Google Maps Street View, so the features will only work in outdoor areas that have been catalogued recently.

The AR feature should prove useful for orienting yourself when you’re in a new area, and might even help users pay more attention to their surroundings when tracking directions with Maps. Plus, Google Maps can be challenging to use for walking directions, and having the directions appear in front of you in real-time should make on-foot navigation a lot easier.

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