This week we finally saw a new smartphone from Google. Dubbed the Pixel 5, it has received a lot of controversial reviews. On the one hand, it is not as bad as it could be, but on the other hand, it is too expensive to want to buy. Well, okay, not only this smartphone was remembered for the past week. We’ve had other updates as well. For example, Google has updated its maps and now they are much more adapted for use with elements of augmented reality.
Augmented Reality in Google Maps Just Got Better
Google Maps is perhaps the most popular service that uses augmented reality for its intended purpose, although the same Apple is much more flaunting its interest in the development of AR. Google developers integrated this technology into their maps about a year ago, and since then they have been systematically developing it, providing them with more and more new functions. But it’s especially great that all these innovations are being introduced not because the company wants it so much, but because they really make Google Maps better, thereby making life easier for users. Like the same Street mode in AR.
Google has unveiled another update to its Streets in AR mode for Google Maps. Previously, users could use it to plot visual routes using arrows in augmented reality, which were superimposed on a real image of the area. This was very cool, considering that many people often interacted with maps inverted, which made navigation very difficult. The regime has now received landmark support. In addition to plotting the route, it will indicate nearby urban infrastructure facilities, attractions, etc.
This seems to be a very minor innovation. After all, the names of the establishments located along your route can be seen on the map anyway. But the fact is that now you will see their location through the camera, regardless of the presence of a real pointer and other obstacles. Let’s say you walk past the Empire State Building, but don’t know what it is. Google Maps will show you this without forcing you to pull your head up and try to see the elements of the exterior and its spire. This way you will surely not get lost and miss, for example, the required turn.
Streets in AR mode works not only for walking on a route but also for cycling, car and public transport. With this map feature, you will stay on track in an unfamiliar city and, if you notice that you are moving away from the right direction, you can change your route. The main thing is, while driving, do not be distracted by your smartphone too often, it can be dangerous not only for you and your passengers but also for other road users.
In fact, in order to implement AR landmarks, Google had to seriously improve accuracy in maps. To do this, the company’s developers have reworked the technology for determining geolocation, starting to take into account not only the actual distance in a straight line to the selected point but also the height differences. This tool is useful on rough terrain, which is characterized by hills and valleys of the relief. As a result, Streets in AR will help map plot the fastest and safest route.
But the innovations of Google Maps do not end there. Google announced that it will soon release another update to its maps, which will include a function to find friends in augmented reality who have shared their geolocation with you. Initially, this innovation appeared in the Google Pixel smartphone app, but will soon reach all other devices. With the help of this function, it will be possible to track in real-time the reduction in the distance between you and follow towards each other without fear of missed paths.
Google Assistant will Wait for You to Answer the Call
Google Assistant is perhaps the only voice assistant that really lives up to its name. It can really help solve many issues that even advanced users often find very difficult. For example, I use the Google Assistant to return apps from Google Play that I don’t like, transfer money, and do many other tasks. But Google believes that the existing skills of the assistant are not enough and continues to supply it with new ones – for the benefit of you and me.
At the Pixel 5 launch, Google introduced a new mode for the Google Assistant called Hold for Me. It is currently only available on smartphones in the Google Pixel line, but it is planned to be released to the public over time.
Despite the fact that Hold for Me is powered by the Google Assistant, the innovation is built into Google’s proprietary Phone app. This was done for the convenience of users so that they can turn on standby mode right after a call, and also so that the application can recognize a toll-free number. That is, the Google Assistant will not be able to suggest waiting when calling private callers, for example, from your contact list. Apparently, Google thinks that there is no point in this since ordinary people usually respond fairly quickly.
Hold for Me is pretty simple. When you dial a company number, the Phone application recognizes this and displays a dedicated button on the screen. Clicking on it activates standby mode, in which the Google Assistant listens to beeps or a music screensaver. And, after the live operator picks up the phone and gives an answer, he will send a notification with vibration, sound, and animation on the screen so that the user picks up the phone and starts a conversation. During this time, you can go about your business and not waste time.
In fact, Google has long been working on integrating the Google Assistant with the Phone app and making it easier for users to interact with calls. Earlier, the company introduced the Call Screen feature, which allows the Google Assistant to pick up the phone, listen to what is being said on the other end of the line, and transmit it in text format on the screen. And more recently, a mechanism for confirming the purpose of calls has appeared in the “Phone” application.
“Confirmed calls”, unlike Hold for Me and Call Screen, are available on all devices.
- Go to the “Phone” application (download) and open the context menu;
- Select “Settings” and go to the “Caller ID and Spam” section;
- Here scroll down the list of available parameters;
- Turn on the “Confirmed calls” function.
This mechanism analyzes the phone number, additional digits, and, referring to an extensive database, gives an assumption where and for what purpose you are called. Now, even at the moment of the call, you will know about the purpose of the call and will be able to decide whether to answer it or not, in advance.