When you're travelling through unfamiliar territory, sometimes turn-by-turn navigation just isn't enough. A new design update on Google Maps is here to help you out.
Image from César
Google quietly rolled out a feature that adds visual cues in the form of Street View images of every road you need to turn on while you're going from Point A to Point B. The update, currently available for Android app users only, is new to the Google Maps app -- but it isn't an entirely new concept.
Google first integrated Street View, which launched in 2007, with the web version of Maps back in 2008. A camera icon near each direction pulls up a Street View image online. TechCrunch also reports the original Droid had a similar feature.
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How to use the new feature
To use the app feature, people don't have to do anything differently. Simply enter your origin location and final destination, as per usual, and have the app map out directions.
To the right of each written direction will be a thumbnail image from Street Views, which can be enlarged into a full-screen 360 degree Street View interactive by tapping on the thumbnail. Using your finger to swipe, you can explore the surroundings and get a better idea of where to go.
It has its perks and limitations
The new feature for the Android app is beneficial for people who struggle to find street names quickly or for anyone who has been a position where they're not 100 per cent sure they're turning on the right street. That said, the feature can be a bit limiting for those driving a vehicle: Going from thumbnail view to full screen requires tapping on the picture whenever you want to see a Street View image in detail. That's a lot of work and attention for someone behind the wheel.
There may be room for error
As for how useful it is, that depends solely on how up-to-date Google's Street View content is. Areas that undergo development or major changes can potentially be misrepresented in the app if Street View is not swiftly updated, leaving it to a person's judgement to verify their exact location without images.
In the end of the day, though, the feature will reduces the odds of your getting lost -- and that isn't too shabby.