Google Maps getting AR integration later this year

Google Maps getting AR integration later this year
Google has announced that it’s launching an AR (Augmented Reality) content program for Maps later this year. This new addition to Google Maps will be available in Singapore and Paris first with other countries probably following suit depending on its success.

From what Google has shown, the AR integration in Maps will let users hold up their phones to see AR content at specific locations. For example, popular landmarks might have traditional dances being performed in front of them by virtual avatars.

The announcement trailer for this program shows colorful displays in AR over famous buildings amidst other AR content. And though I do approve of Google’s push for AR, this just doesn’t look exciting enough.

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You be the judge.

Now I’m all for expanding mainstream adoption of VR, AR and MR. But there are two reasons I’m not too optimistic about this announcement.

Firstly, Google is popular for announcing projects and then abandoning them soon after. There’s an entire site dedicated to keeping track of Google’s abandoned projects. And it gets updated far too often for my liking.

Secondly, AR content on smartphones just isn’t compelling enough. Most people don’t want to actively pull their phone out to look at a virtual display. Which is why, in my opinion, until we get mainstream adoption of AR glasses, things like this Google Maps AR program will not see widespread use.

Luckily, we might be heading towards a future where AR glasses are worth buying. Meta is working on AR glasses that will be powered by AI. I’m very hopeful that these will be great, especially because Meta has been pushing for the growth of the XR industry for ages.

Google also showed off a demo of AI-powered AR smart glasses at I/O 2024.Those looked amazing too but I’ll reserve my excitement until Google actually delivers. I won’t be surprised at all if Project Astra gets binned too.

In the meantime, I’m going to stick to VR games on VR headsets. But my fingers will remain crossed for a truly immersive pair of AR glasses.
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