To accompany a new holiday season that’s bound to have more in-person shopping than we’ve been used to as of late, Google is pushing out an update to its Maps app that lets you use AR to explore which stores and amenities happen to be in your line of sight. Its part of the Live View feature, which previously mostly focused on overlaying directions on a video feed of your surroundings, and the only caveat is that it’s currently limited to London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco, and Tokyo. Seeing as I live in none of those cities, I cannot try out the feature and nab a neat screenshot.
The good news is that the new AR-enabled bit will be available for iOS and Android users as it starts rolling out next week. If you live in one of the respective areas, you’ll be able to hold up Google Maps on your phone to look for ATMs and coffee shops or use it to identify new places to shop. The feature works similarly to Live AR’s existing walking and transit directions—I’m a big fan of that particular ability, as it’s helped me locate subway stations around cities I don’t live in. Granted, you’ll need to be careful, as you’ll obviously have to hold your phone in front of you while you find your way around to use this feature.
Google had previously teased its new AR abilities a few months back as part of its launch of the neighborhood “vibe check” feature, which lets you preview an area and what’s around before you land there on foot. Google explains the “vibe” comes from a combination of artificial intelligence and user reviews. Two groups that are always, certainly, very trustworthy.
The Google Maps feature rollout will also include a new Wheelchair Accessible places option to help you find restaurants and shops that offer compliant ramps, parking, seating, and restrooms. And for folks driving electric vehicles, you can now look up nearby charging stations as you plot out turn-by-turn directions. Both will be available globally as they roll out next week. I’ll have to get to downtown San Francisco soon, so I can try everything and report back.