AR in Google Maps and Pokémon Go- What is New?

AR in Google Maps and Pokémon Go

Google Maps has gone for it. Pokémon Go is making it more advanced. Yes, we are talking about the AUGMENTED REALITY! There have been much talks and experiments on AR. It is seen as one of the most promising technological advancements of this century. Let us see what this AR in Google Maps and Pokémon Go is.

Augmented Reality and its Future

Augmented Reality has a much promising future.

Imagine holding your mobile camera in front of a blank wall of your living room.  Now, pick the color of your choice that you want on your wall. You will instantly be able to see how your wall looks with that paint color.

The same goes in for the furniture. The recent example is the IKEA catalog and the app. It gives you the ability to place your selected furniture virtually in any place of your choice at your home or office.

Isn’t AR worthwhile if it helped us in making our lives easy and comfortable?

What is Augmented Reality?

Before we know what is so special about the AR in Google Maps and Pokémon Go, here is a brief note on augmented reality for the beginners. Much has been in the rounds about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.

Virtual Reality:

Virtual Reality is creating an entire artificially simulated virtual environment. What comes into mind when we talk about virtual reality is the head-mounted display (HMD) that is in rage nowadays. VR uses advanced computer technology to create an artificial 3D environment. It interacts with the vision, hearing, touch or smell to create a user’s view of the real world. For instance, the head mounted display makes use of the user’s eyes and head position. If the eyes turn, then the graphics also react accordingly. Games are the perfect examples of virtual reality.

Augmented Reality:

Now that you have known what virtual reality is, let us see what augmented reality is. Augmented reality doesn’t create an artificial environment entirely. But it simulates artificial objects in the real environment. This technology uses sensors and complex algorithms to know the position and orientation of the camera. It then superimposes the computer-generated images over the real world through the camera. The 3D graphics places the artificial objects where the user wants it to be.

Augmented Reality in Pokémon Go

One fine example of augmented reality which everyone must have noticed is the overlaying of scores on the field (ground) when a live cricket match is being relayed on TV. This is the finest example of AR being used interactively to add information.

But, if we are to pick the most popular application of AR, it would, undoubtedly, be Pokémon Go. It uses AR technology with GPS and camera of your smart devices like mobile or a tab.

The players are to hunt for avatars. When a player encounters a Pokémon, he can view it superimposed on the real-world image. This makes the capture seem more realistic.

Now, Pokémon Go has recently introduced the Go Snapshot feature that will allow the players to take pictures of any Pokémon against real-world environments.

By using this feature, the players can superimpose any of their collected favorite Pokémon in the real-world anytime, anywhere. This photoshoot allows them to find the best angle, click snaps, store it on the device or share it on social media.

Isn’t this an awesome example of AR technology?

Augmented Reality in Google Maps

Google had hinted about using AR in Google Maps during the annual Google I/O 2018 conference held in California. It had said about making the Maps more personalized by introducing new features. This would help in providing better recommendations or directions to the users.

And Voila! Google Maps has rolled out the new feature containing Augmented Reality. But wait, this new feature is for trial purpose only and is limited to select users.

David Pierce at The Wall Street Journal has spotted this feature and given a beautiful explanation video of its advantages and disadvantages including its functionality.

So what difference is AR bringing to Google Maps?

How often have you had to move a few steps before Google Maps understood your location and direction precisely? Isn’t it the same with everyone? Google Maps takes a little amount of time initially to locate your direction and position when you ask it for directions.

What the introduction of AR does is that it recognizes your position and direction based on the nearby landmarks, buildings, and roads. You just have to start your camera and move it around slowly so that Google Maps identifies the location and helps you with the position. The images are compared to the Google Street View data.

After your position is located, the direction overlay is superimposed on the camera viewfinder using the AR technology. So you have the left or right 3D arrow to tell you the path that you have to take to reach your required destination.

Advantages of AR in Google Maps-

  1. It superimposes the direction overlay on the camera viewfinder letting the user exactly know the direction to be taken.
  2. AR in Google Maps even tells after how much distance from the current location, the next turn is to be taken.
  3. It suggests some nearby locations and information like eateries, restaurants, schools, landmarks etc when on the move.
  4. Google Maps suggests keeping the phone down while walking so that your eyes are glued to the road rather than the phone.
  5. For people who are tired of the blue dots on Google maps, this is a welcome move to see the real-world behind the camera with the direction overlay at each turn.

Disadvantages of AR on Google Maps-

Well, we cannot pinpoint disadvantages, if any. But:

  1. The AR feature in Google Maps is rolled out for the pedestrians only. It is not recommended for driving.
  2. The pedestrian has to keep himself glued to the mobile frequently before or at each turn which may cause inconvenience while walking around.
  3. The battery discharge may happen faster when you keep the camera engaged for a longer duration.

As of now, Google has introduced this AR feature as a trial basis only. It is taking feedbacks from the users who are using this feature. The Google Maps Augmented Reality release date has not yet been announced. There might be a lot of changes and extra value-added additions when it is actually rolled out for the general public.


Isn’t the AR in Google Maps and Pokémon Go exciting? Augmented Reality is surely a boon to us in the coming years. It is just the start. We are yet to witness the full-fledged use of AR technology.

Till then we will keep ourselves keyed up with the Google Maps AR release date and the advanced use of AR in Pokémon Go.

Shweta Rao

A keen observer and learner, I am a content writer and social media marketing professional. I read all the latest topics that interest me and write on all the trending topics that interest you.

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