The Google I/O event started strong this year, with CEO Sundar Pichai announcing a new upgrade which is coming to Google Maps. The feature, called Immersive View for Routes, allows users to visualise their route prior to taking a journey.
The feature comes together thanks to the wealth of Google Street View images. Those are stitched together with AI and aerial imaging to create a 3D representation of the area.
It's not the first time we've seen this technology on show. You may remember Immersive View getting shown off at Google I/O 2022. That technology generates a model of a location, and recreates it on screen.
This takes it one step further, though, giving users the chance to check out their route before they take it. It goes even further again here. Information such as air quality is given, while generative traffic and weather updates allow users to see how the journey changes over time. That means you can easily plan the most fuel-efficient route, or decide when to leave to avoid an incoming storm.
It's a really great addition. The technology itself has a wealth of uses. I can imagine it will be massively useful if you're taking a trip in an unfamiliar location, where users can ensure they're taking a safe route. Plus, users can keep an eye out for notable landmarks or points of interest along their route, to ensure they don't miss out on anything interesting.
With the addition of condition updates, users can check for the best time to travel too. No more getting stuck in the rain – simply pre-check the route, to find the optimum conditions for your journey.
There's no guarantee of when this will be publicly available, but Pichai said it would be later this year. As you might expect, it's also not going to be available everywhere straight away. Fifteen cities will be included at launch, with London, New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo and San Francisco included on the list.
Google also say it will work on "just about any phone." Exactly what the requirements are is unclear, but that should inspire a degree of confidence. Whether you use an iPhone, or an Android phone, there's a good chance that this is coming to your handset.