Over the last week or two, several of the top tech reviewers (TechCrunch, for example) were given access to an Alpha build version of Google Maps featuring the anticipated Augmented Reality mode! Yes, we’re just getting started, so we did not get a hands-on experience.
Note: All credits for the content experience, images, and videos go to Greg Kumparak from TechCrunch and can be found here.
This addition was originally announced almost a year ago, and it is finally rolling out (slowly, as an Alpha build at the moment) to users. The intention behind the use of Augmented Reality through Google Maps was to avoid the infamous situation where one ends up walking 2-3 blocks in the wrong direction before realizing that they did so. It happened to us before, and it certainly happened to most of you as well. You leave a location, Maps tells you to turn right (so you do, who wouldn’t trust technology in 2019?), and you end up going in the wrong direction, having to turn around and walk/drive back to finally be on track to your actual destination.
One question arose, do users really want/have to hold their phone up the entire walk/drive? This was one of the biggest concern for Alpha testers, but it appeared that Maps will eventually tell you to lower your phone as it unsafe to walk with your phone up the entire way. Lowering your phone will even automatically exit AR mode only to phase back into the original 2D Maps mode. Bringing back the phone up (as if you were taking a picture) automatically phase back into AR mode.
Overall, the AR mode on Maps actually look very good and user friendly. Greg’s experience showed that the more buildings the app had access to, the more accurate and fast the response of the AR mode was. See below an brief footage of Greg’s test phase.
We are personally planning a trip to Europe at the time of writing this article, so this feature certainly seems appealing to us as it would facilitate our travels greatly. Therefore, we are extremely excited that Maps’ Augmented Reality mode is that far ahead in the development stage, and potentially close to a Beta release. Of course, car users will find it difficult to see the appeal, and it will certainly be interesting to see if the AR mode will allow being turned on while driving/using the Car route on Maps (or if it will require the Walk route to be in use) and how well it will respond if enabled while driving.
What are your thoughts on this? Does it scare you that not only Google will know where you are at all times, but that they will also be able to see what you see at all times? Let us know below!