At last year's I / O developer conference, Google demonstrated a new augmented reality feature for Google Maps that lets people follow the directions from your phone's camera in real-time. As my colleague Chaim Gartenberg pointed out, it looks a bit like what was promised with Google Glass, but without the headset. The Wall Street Journal& # 39; S David Pierce was allowed to try out an early version of the feature.

He says that although it is "probably not your first turn-by-turn option, it is a huge step in the right direction for Google Maps." He described how the feature worked – the app records a person's location via GPS and then uses Street View data to limit it to your exact location. After his location was fixed, it showed great arrows and directions in his screen. "It was as if Maps had drawn my clues to the real world, although no one else could see them."

The app is not designed as someone's main navigation tool

He goes on to say that the app apparently does not allow you to use the camera for a long time, where you are urged to put it down after a short while and display the normal card interface when you do this. Rachel Inman, the user experience of the company, tells him: "It's for those moments like:" I get off the metro, where do I go first? "

Google has reportedly experimented with the user interface and discovered that users will follow a line on the ground too close and that an animated guide will keep them on the screen. Pierce notes that the interface he viewed may change, and that Google does not say when the function is rolled out to users, only that it will soon be available to & # 39; a few local guides & # 39; and only available to everyone when Google is satisfied that it is ready. "

Pierce notes that there are a number of takeaways here. The first is that a big advantage of the function is that it provides people with very specific location data, and that it is a function that will probably not stay on telephones, but on AR-capable eyeglasses. Companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google, North, Vuzix and others have all worked on or sell their own AR glasses, which means that Google's new feature can eventually find its way to your line of sight.