For long, the look and feel of Google Maps has been the standard lines and squiggles. But now, Google has announced that it is upgrading Maps to present an ‘immersive view’ option, which will be more realistic and detailed than the standard map view. Think of it as a 3D version of Maps. “Today — thanks to advances in computer vision and AI that allow us to fuse together billions of Street View and aerial images to create a rich, digital model of the world — we’re introducing a whole new way to explore with Maps,” wrote Miriam Daniel, VP, Google Maps, in a blogpost on the company's official website.
“With our new immersive view, you’ll be able to experience what a neighborhood, landmark, restaurant or popular venue is like — and even feel like you’re right there before you ever set foot inside. So whether you’re traveling somewhere new or scoping out hidden local gems, immersive view will help you make the most informed decisions before you go,” Daniel added.
“It allows you to explore a place like never before,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai during the Google I/O Keynote Address 2022 a few days ago.
Taking London, one of the cities along with Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tokyo for which this feature will be first rolled out later this year, Google explains how Immersive View will work: “Say you’re planning a trip to London and want to figure out the best sights to see and places to eat. With a quick search, you can virtually soar over Westminster to see the neighborhood and stunning architecture of places, like Big Ben, up close. With Google Maps’ helpful information layered on top, you can use the time slider to check out what the area looks like at different times of day and in various weather conditions, and see where the busy spots are. Looking for a spot for lunch? Glide down to street level to explore nearby restaurants and see helpful information, like live busyness and nearby traffic. You can even look inside them to quickly get a feel for the vibe of the place before you book your reservation.”
Google also announced that it is extending the Live View feature to third-party apps. Live View helps you find your way when walking around, using AR to display helpful arrows and directions right on top of your world. It's especially helpful when navigating tricky indoor areas, like airports, malls and train stations. “As part of our efforts to bring the helpfulness of Google Maps to more places, we’re now making this technology available to developers at no cost with the new ARCore Geospatial API,” Google said.
Developers are already using the API to make apps that are even more useful and provide an easy way to interact with both the digital and physical worlds at once. Some examples: Shared electric vehicle company Lime is piloting the API in London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Madrid, San Diego, and Bordeaux to help riders park their e-bikes and e-scooters responsibly and out of pedestrians’ right of way. Telstra and Accenture are using it to help sports fans and concertgoers find their seats, concession stands and restrooms at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne. DOCOMO and Curiosity are building a new game that lets you fend off virtual dragons with robot companions in front of iconic Tokyo landmarks, like the Tokyo Tower.