Google Maps adds augmented reality navigation, beating Apple to the punch

Google Maps
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Google Maps now includes an augmented reality (AR) navigation tool, named Live View, which takes live footage from your phone's camera and superimposes navigation arrows over the top, making it much easier to see which turns you should be taking when you're walking.

Last week, it was discovered that Apple has applied for a patent for AR directions that would overlay route directions onto real-world footage captured by a phone's camera. Apple Maps has always struggled in comparison to Google Maps, and it looked like this might finally give it the upper hand.

However, it turns out Apple was way behind the curve – Google had been working on a similar features for months, and its Live View tool is already available as a beta.

The two AR applications aren't identical, though; while Apple's patent (opens in new tab) describes a tool that would be used for in-car navigation, Live View is designed to help you find your way around on foot.

Lead on...

To use Live View, search for a destination, or select one by tapping on the map, then tap the blue 'Directions' button at the bottom of the screen and select 'Walking directions'. Once that's done, a Live View option will appear at the bottom of the screen. Tap this and the app will guide you through the process of using it.

The feature will be welcomed by anyone who's ever struggled to use top-down navigation in built-up areas, where it's sometimes tricky to see exactly which direction you're facing.

Some Google Pixel phone owners and Local Guides (opens in new tab) contributors have already been able to test Live View, but this week Google is now rolling it out more widely to Android phones that support ARCore (opens in new tab) and Apple phones that support ARKit (opens in new tab) (the platforms necessary for augmented reality experiences).

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)