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Google Maps is adding indoor AR directions, eco-friendly routing, and more

Many of the features are rolling out now in select locations.

google maps inside ar view
Image: KnowTechie

Google just announced a whole bunch of cool features for Google Maps, with the biggest change being that the nifty Live View augmented reality tool now works inside places like malls, airports, or transit stations. Yes, you’ll be able to use your phone camera to help you find your gate as you frantically transfer during flights.

Live View directions let you hold up your smartphone, and it will guide you around based on what it can see. It’s powered by something Google calls “global localization,” which is a short way of saying “AI that scans billions of Street View images to understand your orientation.”

That also means that it only works in places that Google has scanned for Street View, so the indoor AR directions only work in some places right now, like some malls in Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle. Google is planning to extend Live View directions to selected transit stations, airports, and malls in Tokyo and Zurich in “the coming months,” with more cities “on the way.”

Two new layers are also coming to Maps, one for weather, and one for air quality. That’ll help with route and trip planning without needing to move between apps, but it will only work in Australia, India, and the US at launch. Google says it will be globally available at some point, with no firm timeline on the wider availability.

Navigation routing is getting a new eco-friendly option, as well, which uses things like traffic congestion and road incline to offer a fuel-efficient route alongside those time-based routes you see now. Only the US will get this at launch later this year, with a global expansion at some point after that.

Other updates coming include notifications that tell you if you’re about to cross into a low emission zone, if your vehicle should be inside the zone, and also route around it. The way you choose your route and transportation mode to any destination in Google Maps is going to change as well, letting you scroll through all the available options instead of having to navigate through multiple layers of menus.

Maps will also now show if businesses have things like delivery or curbside options, starting with mobile Search with Instacart and Albertsons Cos. stores in the US, with an expansion to Maps and other delivery partners. A pilot is also coming with Fred Meyer stores in Portland, Oregon, so you can add pins to your curbside orders right in Maps, which will then notify you when it’s time to leave, which route to take, share your arrival time with the store, and even get prioritized pickup so you won’t be waiting once you arrive. Neat.

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