Google Maps Live View uses augmented reality to make walking directions more accessible and dynamic on both Android phones and iPhones. Once you know where to find it, Live View is relatively easy to use. However, you may not know what features are available or where you can best use Live View. How to use Google Maps Live View.
How to follow directions with Google Maps Live View
1. Open Google Maps on your Android phone, iPhone or iPad and search for a destination.
2. Tap Directions and Running View.
3. Next to the blue “Start” button, find and tap the “Live View” button.
4. “Enable camera access” on iOS or “Allow cards to take pictures and videos while using the app” on Android.
5. When prompted, point your phone camera around to locate your surroundings, focusing on buildings, landmarks, and/or street signs.
Once Live View recognizes your position, it augments your surroundings with arrows to guide you in the right direction. Hold the phone vertically to continue using the live view, or switch to the horizontal position to return to the 2D map view.
If you’re not using the directions tool and just want to see where a nearby restaurant is, select it on the map and then swipe down the information menu that appears to see a full map view. The live view button should appear at the bottom right. Tap on it and point your phone at your surroundings.
This allows your phone to show you which direction the landmark is in, how far away it is, and if it’s somewhere above ground. You can then switch to directions mode if needed.
Use Live View to get your bearings or improve tracking
(Image credit: Google)
Google Maps Live View’s primary purpose is to help with directions, but depending on where you are, you can use it to find out where you are and what businesses are nearby.
Tap the camera icon in the search bar next to your profile picture. Grant camera permissions if you haven’t already, then get your bearings at nearby businesses and attractions.
In addition to your AR view, you’ll see a Find Nearby Places menu that shows nearby restaurants, shopping, ATMs, and other card categories within a 5-minute walk. Tap one and an on-screen prompt tells you “this direction” until you’re faced with the next option. You can then see how far away it is and (if necessary) tap the location to read reviews or get directions.
(Image credit: Michael Hicks/Android Central)
If you don’t have the best location data—perhaps because nearby buildings or other obstacles are blocking the signal—you can use Live View to “calibrate” your location.
1. Tap the blue button that shows your current location. A “Your Location” view should appear; You may also see a “Location accuracy is low” warning.
2. Tap the Calibrate button.
3. Point your phone at nearby buildings, landmarks, and street signs.
How to find people with Live View
(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda/Android Central)
Notably, this trick only works with Pixel phones, but it’s pretty cool. Any phone lets you share your location on Google Maps – this link will walk you through the key steps. But on a Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro, you can see someone’s location in Live View like you would any business or landmark.
1. Tap on your profile picture and then tap on location sharing in the following menu.
2. If a Google contact has shared their location with you, that contact should appear here; Tip It. You can also tap a contact and request that they share their location.
3. Tap Live View and calibrate your surroundings.
As with any location, Google Maps uses the compass to direct you to that person, then tells you how far away they are and how to get to them!
Where does Google Maps Live View work?
(Image credit: Google)
To use Live View, you must be in a well-lit outdoor area where the camera can see nearby buildings or street signs. And it has to be somewhere with a mapped street view that Google stitches together with footage from its fleet of cars equipped with 360° cameras. The Street View app was recently retired, so Maps and Live View are the best way to access this tool on the go.
A complete Street View map is not created for every location. This link (opens in a new tab) shows where Google is currently creating maps so you can check if your area is about to get the Street View treatment.
Certain tools, such as Live View search, may not work where you live, regardless of Street View and lighting conditions. To test new features like Live View search, Google focused on major cities like London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Paris and Tokyo when it first rolled out, followed by Barcelona, Dublin and Madrid on the list.
In general, you can expect Live View to work best outdoors in large metropolitan areas. But Google also introduced “Indoor Live View” in 2021 and has since expanded the feature. You will mainly find that it works in airports, train stations and shopping malls, although there is no guarantee that your local location will be supported unless you verify it yourself.
We know that some malls in Tokyo, Zurich, and some US cities – Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle – had the feature in 2021, and we’re assuming it has since has arrived in more American malls. Google also promises to bring Indoor Live View to Barcelona, Berlin, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Melbourne, Paris, Prague, São Paulo, Singapore, Sydney and Taipei in 2023.
Google Maps is attracting more competition lately, but it’s still the leading navigation app because of features like Live View and Immersive View.
Available on iPhones, Android phones and most Wear OS watches, maps used to only guide you to destinations, but now you can see your surroundings from a new perspective.
One of the best Android phones available, the Pixel 7 also gives you Google exclusive software tricks like finding your friends in Live View. With great AI tech powering some of the best cameras we’ve tested, the Pixel 7 series is an affordable phone with near-flagship quality.