Lonely Planet Writer

Google Maps has a cool new feature that might make exploring a new city easier

Google has announced a feature in Google Maps that uses augmented reality, which will hopefully make exploring a new city easier for travellers.

A girl looking at historic ruins through her phone
Google has announced a feature in Google Maps that uses augmented reality. Image: Google Maps

Exploring a new city on foot is a great way to take in the sights and sounds of a new place, but it can be hard to know exactly which direction to go at times. Google Maps is a huge help but it can be tricky on occasion to know which way it is sending you initially or what side of the street you're on if you haven't yet got your bearings. The welcome news is that a new feature, Live View, uses global localisation and augmented reality to show you exactly which way to walk using arrows and directions placed in the real world.

A demonstration of the AR function on Google Maps
The new AR feature shows you where to go using arrows. Image: Google Maps

How it works is that you search for a nearby location you want to walk to, or tap on it on the map, then tap on the blue directions button near the bottom of the screen. You then choose walking directions near the top of the screen, hit ‘Live View’ near the bottom of the screen, and you’ll be guided through using the feature. Live View has been tested with Google's Local Guides and Pixel community over the past few months and is now expanding to Android and iOS devices that support ARCore and ARKit.

You can also use Google Maps to see all of your flight and hotel reservations in one place, find restaurants tailored to your tastes with Your Match, see how long the wait is and even book a reservation without ever leaving the app.  If you’ve chosen to turn your Location History setting on, you can now use the updated version of Timeline to see all of the places you went to in a country or a city, so that you can share tips with friends or recall your favourites for your own reference.

A demonstration of the Timeline function on Google Maps
The updated version of Timeline shows you all of the places you went to in a country. Image: Google Maps

More information about devices that support the new augmented reality feature is available here, and to see how global localization can improve navigation, please see here.