How to use augmented reality (AR) directions in Google Maps

Google Maps' Live View directions uses your Android phone's camera, here's how to activate the AR feature

Google Maps AR Live View directions screengrabs showing feature in action
(Image credit: Google)

There's a cool feature baked into Google Maps that you can access on your Android phone: augmented reality directions, which Google names 'Live View'.

That's right: Google can use your phone's camera to give you real-time direction prompts and reference landmarks for more accurate step-by-step directions. 

But how do you activate Live View and use the AR in Google Maps on Android feature? Here's a quick how-to guide.

Google Maps Live View feature

(Image credit: Google)

Google Maps AR: Grant permissions

First thing's first: you'll need to search for a destination as normal in Google Maps, then click 'Directions' and click 'Start' to commence step-by-step directions.

You'll then spot a symbol to the bottom left of the screen, presenting a location pin surrounded by four square corners, which you can click to activate Live View.

This will then prompt your Android phone to grant camera permissions, which you'll need to permit while using the app. 

Google Maps Live View feature

(Image credit: Google)

AR in Google Maps: How to activate

Pressing this 'Live' symbol will then activate the camera, showing your surroundings, while the maps portion will be reduced to a circular portion. 

However, the camera will automatically switch off to preserve battery life, reverting back to a full-screen top-down Google Maps experience. 

There's a clever feature to reactivate though: tilt your phone and the built-in gyro will kick the camera back into action.

Google Maps Live View feature

(Image credit: Google)

Live View directions

So what does Google Maps' Live View function actually offer? In addition to the usual audio prompts, you'll see direction arrows, while if you're on the right path the app will show 'Continue this way' in an overlaid blue pop-up. 

You can see Google Maps using the camera to constantly reference your surroundings, too, ensuring accuracy in relation to your location. We find this improves accuracy in terms of direction too. 

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike has been writing about consumer technology for 15 years and is T3's Tech Editor. As a phones expert he's seen hundreds of handsets over the years – swathes of Android devices, a smattering of iPhones, and a batch of Windows Phone products (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech aficionado his beat for T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a stone unturned that he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for a full decade, he's also provided work for publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Metro, and more. In addition to his tech knowledge, Mike is also a flights and travel expert, having travelled the globe extensively. You'll likely find him setting up a new mobile phone, critiquing the next MacBook, all while planning his next getaway... or cycling somewhere.