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Google Maps Gets New AR Features, Accessibility Icons, EV Charging Info

Search with Live View arrives first in major cities including London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco and Tokyo.

Google Maps logo on a phone
Google Maps has new AR, EV, shopping and accessibility features for the holiday season.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Google Maps is getting a new augmented reality tool in the coming days that lets you use your phone camera to find out what's around you. The feature, called Search with Live View, is arriving with other features including accessibility icons and a mechanism to find the right kind of EV charger, the company said Thursday.

With Search with Live View, you'll be able to hold up your phone while walking around London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco or Tokyo, and Google Maps will show relevant information about what it's seeing through your camera. That includes landmarks, street names, restaurants, ATMs and hotels. All people have to do is tap on the camera icon next to the microphone in Google Maps.

The change is an example of how Google is trying to transform its services to use modern technology, combining the data-gathering abilities of our phones with the power of its massive databases of information. Typing some text to find out information is useful, but Google's advances here with cameras and AR are geared to make sense of the world around us in a more direct way.

Another notable Google Maps change is for electric vehicle owners who need to charge their cars. The updated Google Maps will let you filter charging station information to find plugs that are compatible with your EV or find fast chargers.

And for those needing some accessibility options, Maps will add wheelchair icons.

Other improvements are coming to Google Search more broadly. Starting Thursday, multisearch is expanding to food-related queries. If you see a dish you'd like to try, you can use the Lens feature in the Google app to snap a picture or take a screenshot and then add the words "near me." This reveal nearby establishments that sell that dish.

The Lens AR translation system also does a better job interpreting signs and more in foreign languages and showing the translation in your language, Google said. This is especially handy when trying to decipher a menu in a foreign language.

Sneakerheads will also be able to use AR to see 3D renderings of shoes they're looking to buy.

Shopping for beauty products will get easier later Thursday, too, by showing how a particular makeup product will look, Google said. A new collection of 148 models offer a variety of skin tones to match yours. When you're shopping for beauty products in Search, Google will display various models with the makeup applied. It'll be possible to compare before and after shots. People can choose the model with the skin tone that best matches their own to make a better-informed decision.