Thursday proved to be a busy day for Google. The tech giant is bringing some of the features it had teased and previewed back in September, as it gears up for the year-end holidays.
Several of these features belong to Google Maps, which is getting a boost of augmented reality (AR). With the integration of AR and AI, Maps is getting the highly-anticipated Live View feature, which is now rolling out to a handful of cities across the globe, such as London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco and Tokyo both on Android and iOS, beginning next week.
With Live View, users can get AR-powered directions and arrows – which might be more useful than the current state of directions provided by Maps – and they will be able to see nearby stores and places of interest (such as cafes, banks, landmarks, or ATMs), and all they have to do is to hold up their phone, tap on the camera icon in the search bar, and point it at their surroundings. And to add to it, they may be able to see places that aren’t in their immediate field of view (say, a shop around the block).
If this sounds a lot like the Eagle Vision in Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed video-game franchise (especially the recent ones), well, it is. And the best part is that Live View will let users find out more about places by clicking on the colourful dots that appear on the map (denoting restaurants, parks, bars, shops, and the like), as well as show them pertinent information about each spot – like the price range of food in a restaurant, or whether a bar is open.
“‘Tis the season for holiday outings. Whether you’re running errands, exploring new places with friends or traveling to see family, Google Maps can help make navigating this busy season a little less stressful,” Google announced in a blog post. The same revealed a new feature that will let users run more seamless searches for EV charging stations (EV users, take note!). With the new “fast charge” filter (under “EV charging stations”), users will be able to find stations with 50kW chargers or higher more easily. Additionally, they can filter for stations that offer their EV’s plug type so that they see only those stations that have plugs that are compatible with their vehicle.
The third update to come to Maps is the global expansion of “accessible places” feature, which Google had launched two years ago, on both Android and iOS. So far available in Australia, Japan, the UK, and the US, the feature lets users see if a destination on Maps is accessible via a wheelchair. Turning on the “Accessible Places” setting in the Google Maps app will show them the new wheelchair icon on the business profile if it has a wheelchair-accessible entrance or accessible seating, parking, and restrooms, Google noted in the blog post.