On Tuesday, at Google I/O, Google unveiled some of its new AR capabilities for the pair of mobile apps.
In Google Search, you can now view AR animations of athletes like soccer hero Megan Rapinoe, tennis star Naomi Osaka, and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles.
Perhaps the most exciting of these improvements is the expansion of Live View from a walking navigation tool to an AR x-ray viewer of a traveler's immediate vicinity accessible directly from the map view. Leveraging its vast Street View map library and computer vision, Live View will be able to overlay information hotspots over neighboring businesses so that travelers can quickly access menus and photos within the camera view.
Later this year, Google will add overlays for street signs and popular landmarks in the camera view. Finally, Google will begin launching indoor navigation for train stations and airports in Zurich this week and Tokyo next month.
AR features in Search and Maps have shown how AR can be helpful tools rather than just fun toys. During the pandemic, AR content in Search gave families the luxury of seeing virtual animals in their homes to enhance at-home learning or previewing products before buying. The addition of virtual athletes to Search gives sports fans a closer view of famous athletes than a front-row seat could ever provide.
Meanwhile, Live View has already become indispensable for navigating unfamiliar cities. I've personally found it helpful in travels to Atlanta and Washington, DC to determine the right direction to walk from point A to point B. With its new features, Live View is about to get even better.