While navigation by way of Google Maps is, for the most part, a smooth process for pedestrians, there's usually an awkward moment of failed orientation when you first start the feature and try and line yourself up with the little blue dot.
If you are a Google Maps Local Guide in the U.S., you should check out this feature today.
The new navigation system uses your camera to provide directions using augmented reality.
Pierce notes that the interface he previewed could change, and that Google isn't saying when the feature will roll out to users, just that it'll be available to "a few Local Guides" soon, and "will come to everyone only when the company is satisfied that it's ready".
When you search for a place in Google Maps, along with regular "Directions" button, you will have the new "Start AR" button to access the new experience.
It's a rather interesting way to have an interactive navigation experience, albeit one that has you holding up your phone vertically directly in front of you as you walk down a street instead of holding it horizontally as you stare down at the screen oblivious to your surroundings. The idea is that you will simply put your phone up when you need to see which turn to take, and then put your phone down till you get to the next step. This could be for safety reasons: If your smartphone is in AR mode for a long time, it will make your screen darker and you won't focus on obstacles ahead.
Although the Google Maps AR feature was announced halfway through 2018, it has not yet arrived on any consumer devices, but The Wall Street Journal has been able to test out an early version of it. And this new AR-powered navigation seems really promising at tackling that.