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. 

As the Tech Editor at T3, Mike handles all things tech - from phones, tablets and laptops, to gaming and computing. Everything that's geeky yet cool. He's been working as a consumer technology journalist for the best part of 15 years, travelling the globe to attend all manner of industry events. You'll always find him setting up a new mobile phone or planning his next get-away.