A few days ago I’ve read that Yahoo has added a new AR mode to its Yahoo! Japan Maps app. The app is available from the Japanese app store and if you have a Japanese account, you can download it and check it out.
Right now I am visiting Seoul, South Korea. I also intend to visit Japan very soon. In Seoul, I only used Google Maps because it provides me with a very intuitive and simple to use navigation, excellent route suggestions, as well as many other very useful search options and recommendations.
Overall, I am very pleased with Google Maps, however, there are many times where I wish there was a clear virtual path on the road to show me the way. It happens many times where I realized that the bus station is in the middle or at the other side of the road. Even when using Google Maps is getting confusing at times.
Had I had an option to actually see an arrow pointing the bus or metro stations or have a path leading me there, this would be so much better. Of course, to have it in such an accuracy, an AR cloud technology integration s needed.
You know what’s funny. I wonder if Google had thought about creating 3D scans of the streets for their future AR cloud solution when they send thousands of cars to scan the streets for Google Street View functionality for their Maps applications? I think if the data was available, we might see this type of functionality sooner than later, instead of waiting for users to use apps that will seed it over time (which will also need to happen to ensure constant updates, scanning of interiors, etc).
What Yahoo! did is similar to HotStepper app. It also helps you reach your destination by following a cute little fellow named Kenshukualongside distance-to-destination signs and a highlighted path on the pavement that shows you the way.
I really liked the “footprints” feature (different pictures can appear, sometimes barefoot, animal footprints, show marks, etc), which shows you the direction you came from, a very smart idea, preventing you from returning and going the wrong way. The app will also alert you if you are out of route or when it failed to recognize the space due to insufficient lighting for example.
Here is a video that shows Yahoo! Maps AR functionality in action.
This app uses GPS locations, but I am not sure how precise is it compared to HotStepper. Although I am going to Japan soon, I won’t be able to test it out because I don’t have a Japanese App Store account.
The AR mode is an experimental mode which launched on March 5th, 2018. It uses Apple’s ARKit framework, thus require an ARKit-powered device running iOS 11.0. This AR feature is only applicable for walking routes.
One of the main issues with this app is that it’s very power-angry. I mean, one of the main reasons I bought a 10,000mAh external power juice is because the GPS drinks the battery so fast, that it can drain the battery in a very short time. Now add the AR capability on top of that, and you understand why it’s necessary to have an external battery if you intend to use it for long navigations.
I’m looking forward to see how the big companies are going to move this technology forward with their navigation apps. Obviously, we can expect Google and Apple to introduce their own implementation into their brand apps, I’m also looking forward to seeing new apps that use new emerging AR cloud technologies from 3rd party solutions.
I’ve already tested HotStepper quite thoroughly and I found it to be uncomfortable to use as a navigation app. You feel awkward walking down the street and pointing your phone constantly in front of you, let alone the fact that it’s not completely safe as you might not be aware of moving objects, people or other dangers lying outside the screen’s boundaries. The app can also lead you to walk on the road, what happened to me with HotStepper quite a few times.
Overall, I’m happy seeing Yahoo! taking this first step and testing this AR feature in its popular iOS map app. Showing an interest in AR might suggest that Yahoo! is planning to introduce a new significant AR update in the near future.
For more information, you can visit the original article at the following link below (in Japanese).
source: Yahoo! Japan
Download Yahoo! Japan Map app from the Japanese app store here.