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Google Maps’ AR Live View hits London next week

Google Maps users exploring London will be able to benefit from the exciting Live View AR feature, from next week.

The feature enables users to point their camera lens at buildings in order to surface information like the store name, star rating and an idea of busy it might be. You’ll see whether it’s open and, for an eatery, how expensive it’s likely to be.

For buildings out of view, such as around the corner or within a shopping centre, you’ll see direction arrows and directions for how to get there.

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The feature, which leverages billions of street view images as well as augmented reality will be available in London next week, as well as in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco and Tokyo on Android and iOS.

It isn’t a concept that’s entirely new. There have been versions of this kind of tech since the dawn of the smartphone era, but leveraging the Google Maps knowhow means it could be an indispensable tool for travellers who aren’t familiar with the areas they’re exploring. Even for locals, it may uncover a hidden gem.

“Say you’re visiting New York with plans to knock out your holiday shopping and catch up with friends. Lift your phone and tap on the camera icon in the search bar to see nearby stores and other places like coffee shops, banks and ATMs,” Amanda Leicht Moore, the product director at Google Maps, in a blog post.

“With AR-powered directions and arrows, you can see what direction they’re in and how far away they are — and even spot places that aren’t in your immediate view (like a clothing store around the block) to get a true sense of the neighbourhood at a glance.

“To find other places to hang out, tap on different place categories to explore what restaurants, bars, dessert shops, parks and transit stations are nearby. The best part? Beyond showing you where places are, you can see key information about each spot overlaid — like whether or not it’s open, how busy it is, what the price range is, and if the Google Maps community rates it highly.”

Elsewhere, Google is adding real time information about electric car charging stations, as well as wheelchair accessible and stair-free places for the iOS and Android Google Maps apps.

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