Google Maps challenges Apple’s 3D mode with a new ‘global view’ of cities – TechCrunch

In the face of increased competition from Apple Maps and its 3D city views, Google today introduced its own vision for the next generation of Google Maps with a preview of a new, more “immersive” viewing experience. The improvement, which was presented during the Google I/O conference keynote, takes advantage of a combination of computer vision and AI technology to fuse Street View and aerial imagery together in order to offer a digital model of the world and a new way to explore cities, major landmarks, restaurants, places and other places of interest.

Google says it has combined “billions” of images to create this immersive view, which allows users to explore by visually hovering over an area to see what it might look like. For example, if you’re planning a trip to London, you can use the feature to look at landmarks like Big Ben or Westminster to get a better sense of the place, the experience, and the architecture. You’ll also be able to use the Time Slider to adjust how the area looks at different times of the day — a feature a bit like Apple Maps’ night mode with moonlight glow activated at dusk, even when browsing 3D cities.

Image credits: The Google

However, Google’s immersive mode will also allow users to search for local weather and traffic conditions to help with planning.

This new mode will not only stop at representing major cities from a more holistic perspective – it will also make it possible to more easily explore the interior, including neighborhood restaurants and other popular venues.

Image credits: The Google

Users will be able to slide to street level and tap to view what it looks like inside a place they might want to visit. This can help people see what kind of ambiance a restaurant might have, among other things. You can also see the live congestion in the area and the traffic near that level.

Image credits: The Google

However, the feature will not be immediately available everywhere.

Initially, it will roll out in major cities including Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo by the end of the year, with more cities to follow in the coming months. Google said it will work across platforms and devices, starting with rolling it out on Android and iOS later this year.

The company also announced a few other Google Maps updates during the event. It said its eco-friendly steering feature, which launched in the US and Canada last fall to help drivers find the most fuel-efficient lanes, will expand to Europe later this year.

Image credits: The Google

So far, the addition is estimated to have saved more than half a million metric tons of carbon emissions, which is the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road. Google says European expansion will double that number.

Meanwhile, for developers, Google has announced the launch of a new ARCore Geospatial API which will provide Live View Maps feature for developers to use in third-party applications.

Image credits: The Google

Live View is the feature that overlays augmented reality arrows and directions on top of the real world, as seen through a smartphone camera. The idea is that you can pull out your phone and see exactly how to start walking when you’re in a new place where you might be disoriented. It’s as if you’ve dropped yourself inside Google Street View.

Now, Google will also allow its developer partners to create products that use Live View technologies.

Image credits: Google / Docomo

One partner is small transportation company Lime, which uses an API to help travelers in London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Madrid, San Diego and Bordeaux find places to park their e-scooters and e-bikes. Telstra and Accenture use it to help sports fans and concert-goers find their seats, concession stands and restaurants at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne. In Japan, Docomo and Curiosity are building a new game in which players fend off virtual dragons with robot companions in front of Tokyo landmarks, such as the Tokyo Tower, which is also powered by an API.

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