Google Maps users exploring London will be able to take advantage of the exciting Live View AR feature from next week.
This feature allows users to point their camera lens at buildings in order to view information such as the name of the store, its star rating, and an idea of how busy it might be. You’ll see if it’s open or not, and for a restaurant, how high it’s likely to be.
For buildings that are not visible, such as nearby or inside a shopping mall, you will see direction arrows and directions on how to get there.
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The feature, which takes advantage of billions of Street View imagery as well as augmented reality, will be available in London next week, as well as in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco and Tokyo on Android and iOS.
It’s not an entirely new concept. There have been versions of this type of technology since the dawn of the smartphone era, but taking advantage of Google Maps’ knowledge means it could be an indispensable tool for travelers who aren’t familiar with the areas they’re exploring. Even for locals, it may reveal a hidden gem.
“Let’s say you’re visiting New York and plan to ditch your holiday shopping and catch up with your friends. Raise your phone and tap the camera icon in the search bar to see nearby stores and other places like coffee shops, banks, and ATMs,” Amanda Licht-Moore, product manager at Google Maps, said in a blog post.
“Using directions and arrows powered by augmented reality, you can see which way they’re in and how far away they are — and even mark places that aren’t in your direct vision (like a clothing store around the block) to get a sense of the neighborhood at a glance.
To find other places to hang out, tap on the different places categories to explore nearby restaurants, bars, pastry shops, parks, and public transit stops. The best part? In addition to showing places to hang out, you can see basic information about each overlay spot — like whether it’s open or not, How busy is it, what’s the price range, and whether the Google Maps community rates it highly.”
Elsewhere, Google is adding real-time information about electric vehicle charging stations, as well as wheelchair-accessible and ramp-free places to its Google Maps apps for iOS and Android.