Google Maps adds KL landmarks and AR directions for pedestrians

Google Map rolls out its Live View feature that also takes into account local landmarks to help direct users while walking. — Reuters

Commuters will now be able to use local landmarks, like Menara Kuala Lumpur, to help direct them while walking around both domestic and foreign cities.

Google Maps product manager Mirko Ranieri said the Live View Feature now integrated nearby landmarks so users can quickly and easily orient themselves and understand their surroundings.

He added that the feature used augmented reality (AR) to display arrows, directions, and distance markers that are “placed right on top of your world” when viewed through the camera, “so you spend less time figuring out which way you should be headed”.

“Live View will show users how far away certain landmarks are from them and what direction to go to get there. These landmarks can include iconic places, like the Empire State Building in New York and the Pantheon in Rome, and easily recognisable places, like local parks and tourist attractions,” he said.

A check of Google Maps for Malaysia showed local landmarks included the Petronas Twin Towers, Menara Kuala Lumpur, Merdeka Square and Thean Hou Temple.

Apart from Kuala Lumpur, the landmarks feature is also available for 24 other cities around the world, including Bangkok, Tokyo, New York, Paris, and London, amongst others.

Live View can be turned on when using the Navigation feature, if the transit includes a walking portion.

Google is also expanding Live View to work in conjunction with its Location Sharing feature.

With this feature, users can share their location which will appear as a landmark in Live View, to guide people towards them by showing how far they are and dropping arrows pointing towards where the user is waiting.

Previously this feature was only available on Google’s Pixel smartphones, but will soon be rolled out to other brands running on both Android and iOS operating systems.

Google explained that all these features were made possible by improving its global localisation using machine learning and processing data from topographical maps.

This helped the directions take into account different elevations, which previously caused issues when trips involved steep changes in elevation, say from on top of a hill to its bottom.

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