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Google Maps Slowly Rolling Out Augmented Reality Navigation

In a move seemingly designed to frustrate those of us who do not walk down the street staring at our phones and utterly oblivious to our surroundings, Google has started to roll out an augmented reality feature to their mobile Maps application.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s David Pierce, the feature, which was announced at its developer conference last May, utilizes your phone’s camera and GPS to layer directional arrows and instructions onto your screen while analyzing your surroundings using decades worth of Google Street photos. According to Pierce, the overall effect of the app “was as if Maps had drawn my directions onto the real world, though nobody else could see them.”

f you’re concerned that the new technology could lead you to wander down the street enthralled by the novelty while enraging drivers and fellow pedestrians, and running the risk of walking into an open manhole, fear not.

Pierce notes that Google’s engineers have attempted to build in certain safety features, noting that the app “will prompt you to put your phone down after a few seconds” and has a screen-darkening feature designed to preserve battery life.

If you’re anxious to find out where the closest Starbucks is with the enhanced maps, you’ll likely have to wait a bit. The company has not provided a release date and it doesn’t look like they’re in a huge hurry. According to Pierce, the AR enhancements “will come to everyone only when Google is satisfied that it’s ready.”

We’re hoping that by then there will be an additional app that keeps people walking at a reasonable pace, even if they’re going to insist on staring at their phones. It’s one of the 21st century’s most profound ironies that people who are constantly trying to look at where they’re going never seem to actually watch where they’re going.

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