Google revealed augmented reality-powered navigation in Maps last year and it has now got around to rolling out the feature. It’s doing that at a very limited rate, though. Google Maps AR navigation is currently being tested with Local Guides only, they’re the community reviewers that provide information about places and points of interest listed in Maps.
Google confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that it’s only rolling out this functionality to Local Guides first. It feels that the feature needs more testing before it can be rolled out to all users. Nevertheless, this goes to show that Google has made considerable progress in the development of this feature, so much so that it may not be too long before it’s out for everyone.
The way it works is Google Maps uses GPS to estimate the user’s location and then turns to the camera to get a more precise idea of the location. It then shows 3D arrows that hover over the places that the user has to turn. The AR feature is meant for navigation use when walking only.
Google has built in some protections to ensure that users don’t just use AR navigation all the time without watching where they’re going. If the user holds up the phone in AR mode for a long time, the app will ping the user to lower the device and will ultimately darken the screen if they don’t do it. This would help prevent embarrassing cases of people bumping into each other.