Google Maps rolls out an awesome new AR view for navigation inside malls and airports

An image showing three generic handsets running Google Maps with Live View augmented reality mode for AR navigation inside malls and airports

Google is bringing an awesome new mode to its mapping app for iOS and Android designed for augmented reality (AR) navigation inside shopping malls and airports.


Indoor AR navigation in Google Maps. Works inside shopping malls and airports. New eco-friendly route options due later in 2021.

AR indoor navigation with Google Maps

This has been confirmed in a blog post on the Google website, which outlines a couple of new Google Maps features slated to hit iOS, iPadOS and Android devices later this year.

Called Live Mode, the new feature gives you accurate turn-by-turn directions inside shopping malls and airports by taking advantage of artificial intelligence to “scan tens of billions of Street View images to understand your orientation.”

Thanks to new advancements that help us understand the precise altitude and placement of objects inside a building, we’re now able to bring Live View to some of the trickiest-to-navigate places indoors: airports, transit stations and malls.

The feature debuted in Google Maps for iOS and Android for a handful of shopping malls in Chicago, Long Island, Los Angles, Newark, San Fransico, San Jose and Seattle. In the coming months, it'll roll out to select airports, malls, and transit stations in Tokyo and Zurich.

Additional cities and locations are coming in the future.

Eco-friendly routes

Aside from AR indoor navigation, Google Maps will also gain eco-friendly routes later this year.

With insights from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab, we’re building a new routing model that optimizes for lower fuel consumption based on factors like road incline and traffic congestion.

When that feature is launched publicly, Google Maps will default to the route with the lowest carbon footprint when it has approximately the same ETA as the fastest route, Google says.

→ What are lists on Google Maps and how do I use them?

“In cases where the eco-friendly route could significantly increase your ETA, we’ll let you compare the relative CO2 impact between routes so you can choose,“ reads the post. Google will let you change your defaults to have the app, for example, always show the fastest route.

Eco-friendly routes will be available on both iOS and Android later this year. Initially, this feature will cover the US, but Google's promised a global expansion arriving at some point.

Air quality and other tidbits

Google even outlined some of the features that will be coming to its mapping service later this year, including weather and air quality information, with the relevant data being pulled from such partners as The Weather Company, and the Central Pollution Board.

With the new weather layer, you can quickly see current and forecasted temperature and weather conditions in an area—so you’ll never get caught in the rain without an umbrella. And the new air quality layer shows you how healthy (or unhealthy) the air is—information that’s especially helpful if you have allergies or are in a smoggy or fire-prone area.

→ How to use filters to search for Google Maps locations

Weather information and the air quality index will hit Google Maps on iOS and Android “in the coming months.” The weather layer will be available globally and the air quality layer will launch in Australia, India and the US, with more countries to come—you guessed right—at a later time.

Both weather and air quality information have been available on Apple Maps for some time.

And lastly, stores’ business profiles available on Google Maps and through Google Search will now display useful information such as delivery providers, pickup and delivery windows, fees, as well as order minimums. This is currently available via Google Search on mobile, starting with Instacart and Albertsons Cos. stores in the US.

The feature will extend to Maps and expand to other partners in the future.

Apple Maps expansion: turn-by-turn directions in UAE, cycling directions in Portland & San Diego

Apple Maps Nearby Stops

Apple has expanded navigation directions on its mapping service to additional markets. The company has been expanding the availability of various Maps features over the past year or so, unveiling new features to catch up to Google Maps. For example, Maps in 2020 has picked up junction view to help with the complex intersections. And with the iOS 14.5 update, Maps has gained Waze-like reporting of accidents, road hazards, speed traps, and more.

Apple Maps Look Around view launches in Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale and Miami

The Look Around feature in Apple Maps is now available in a few more major cities in the United States, including Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

If you live in a city that has street imagery available, invoking Look Around will let you pan high-resolution street photos 360 degrees and move through the streets with smooth transitions.

This high-resolution, interactive 3D experience in Maps was implemented on the iPhone and iPad with the September 2019 release of the iOS and iPadOS 13 software updates.

Aside from Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, the Look Around feature is also available in t he following cities, according to Apple's iOS and iPadOS Feature Availability page.

Boston, MA Chicago, IL Dublin, Ireland Edinburgh, Scotland Houston, TX Las Vegas, NV London, United Kingdom Los Angeles, CA Nagoya, Japan New York, NY Oahu, HI Osaka, Japan Philadelphia, PA San Francisco Bay Area, CA Seattle, WA Tokyo, Japan Washington, DC

On the Mac, Look Around requires macOS 11 Big Sur or later.

How to use Look Around in Maps

To use the Look Around feature, open the Maps app on your iPhone, iPad or Mac and enter the name of a supported city like San Francisco into the search box you (on mobile, swipe up from the bottom to reveal the search field).

If that location has Look Around available, you should see a Look Around icon in the location thumbnail available in the location details screen. Tapping the icon zooms the current map into a gorgeous street-level view. Use your finger to move the screen left or right for a full 360-degree picture. To see where Apple is collecting imagery for this feature, head over to the Apple Maps Image Collection page.

How to share your ETA in Apple Maps with Siri

As you follow turn-by-turn driving directions in Apple Maps on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, you have the option to let others know your estimated time of arrival (ETA). That being said, however, responsible drivers shouldn't really be taking their eyes off the wheel to tap through the menus. Thankfully, in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, you can ask Siri to share your ETA, hands-free. In this tutorial, you're going to learn how to share your ETA in Apple Maps with Siri.