Google is launching an augmented reality feature for iOS and Android users that will allow people to get directions through AR on Google Maps while walking. The feature, which is currently in beta-mode is being slowly added to all users’ AR-compatible devices over time. This marks a new era for augmented reality, which was previously used primarily as a marketing tool for companies to sell their products online. AR, which has been around for roughly the same amount of time as Virtual Reality (VR) is quickly surpassing VR in popularity among marketing and tech companies.

The Rise of Augmented Reality

When virtual reality first became available to consumers, many expected it to be the next biggest thing in both tech and entertainment. However, expensive, clunky hardware (and the fact that most people suffer from motion sickness when using a VR headset), combined with the fact that VR just isn’t as cool as we expected it to be, meant that sales declined and advertisers began to look elsewhere for a cool new advertising feature.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, was easy to install on current mobile devices and didn’t require consumers to purchase any new piece of tech. App developers caught on to the rising trend, and implemented the technology into new apps and games. Pokemon Go, an app that was released in 2016 to a massive audience, gained its notoriety solely based off of the fact that it let users find and catch Pokemon on their phones in real life by using their mobile phone’s camera. The app was released on iOS and Android on July 6, 2016, and by July 19 it had amassed around 45 million active users around the world.

Marketers and e-commerce companies quickly picked up on the popularity of augmented reality. By 2019, dozens of e-commerce websites have implemented some sort of AR feature that lets consumers visualize a product in their real life through the lens of their cell phones. Amazon and Ikea have both implemented AR marketing tools that let customers put furniture in their home virtually. Sephora also allows its app users to try on makeup before they buy it (something Youtube is looking to implement for its beauty influencer channels in the near future).

When Will Your Device Get The Feature?

Google has been slowly implementing the beta version of the AR walking directions feature in eligible devices for at least a week now. We recommend updating your Google Maps app and then launching it to see if you have the feature. Phones that are eligible will also have the “Street View” feature available on their maps app, meaning pretty much any mobile phone that was made within the last couple of years.

Once you’ve updated your app, tap on a nearby location and click on the walking directions as you usually would. Once the directions launch, mobile devices that have the feature will have the option to click on a “live view” option near the bottom of the screen.