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Google to roll out AR navigation to Android and iPhone handsets

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Google is to add augmented reality (AR) features to its Maps app, allowing people to navigate using virtual arrows superimposed onto their real-world surroundings.

The AR feature, known as ‘Live View’, was initially introduced earlier this year to Google Pixel smartphone users and will now be extended to all compatible Android and iPhone handsets running Android version 7.0 and iOS 11 respectively.

The feature can be opened by tapping a ‘Start AR’ button. Along with a 2D map placed at the bottom of the screen, users can then use the feature to navigate to their destinations. The AR feature layers the Maps interface over a real-time feed from the phone’s camera, with large arrows and directions to guide a pedestrian to their destination.

The AR works by using GPS location and Google Street View’s database of street photographs to determine location and orientation. These images are compared and matched with the live camera feed to pinpoint location. The feature will, naturally, only be available in regions where Street View is available.

“There’s nothing like exploring a city on foot – it’s a great way to take in the sights and sounds of a new place,” Google wrote in a blog post, “but it can be hard to know exactly which direction to go. With a feature called Live View, you can use [AR] to better see which way to walk. Arrows and directions are placed in the real world to guide your way.”

“We’ve tested Live View with the Local Guides and Pixel community over the past few months and are now expanding the beta to Android and iOS devices that support ARCore and ARKit, starting this week.”

Earlier this summer, Google Maps added a feature to predict the crowdedness of public transport options in an effort to help users avoid unpleasant journeys on packed trains and buses during rush-hour traffic.

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