Tuesday, 29 November 2022

New Immersive View feature of Google Maps is not coming to Indian cities

New Immersive View feature of Google Maps is not coming to Indian cities

Google's headline feature for this year is coming to its Maps application, which will let app users zoom in on a landmark, explore it 360 degrees, and even take a peek inside, all through the screen of their smartphones.

The feature, called Immersive View, is self-explanatory. During the keynote address on the first day of Google I/O, Alphabet

CEO Sundar Pichai said Google made use of "advances in computer vision and AI that allows us to fuse billions of Street View and aerial images to create a rich, digital model of the world — we're introducing a whole new way to explore with Maps."

According to Pichai, Immersive View will allow users to "experience what a neighborhood, landmark, restaurant or popular venue is like — and even feel like you're right there before you ever set foot inside."
The feature is not only aimed at letting users plan out their itinerary thoroughly before setting foot outside their homes but also getting a feel for the place they're planning to visit.

Sounds exciting, right? To be able to step inside a hallowed monument without even leaving your smartphone screen? Yes, it does, but only if you're in Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo.
Google says more cities will be added soon, but given how historically Indian cities have been treated, do not expect this feature to come to New Delhi or Mumbai in the next few years.
Before we get into all that, the feature will look on Google Maps in compatible cities.

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Why is India being left out?

Google isn't the only company to ignore Indian cities regarding such innovative features. When it announced iOS 15 last September, Apple unveiled a similar feature for Apple Maps. Users "can experience a three-dimensional city view with rich detail, enhanced navigation, immersive walking directions, and more." These features include Augmented Reality-based directions through Street View, too. However, just like Google, Apple had confined its best to London, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco.
One consolation is that Indians can still use this feature and perhaps plan their next holiday to any of these cities.

One reason for this exclusion could be that these companies do not have the money to prepare a comprehensive, intricate three-dimensional digital map of India's metropolises with their diverse architectures and road networks that do not conform to the grid-based city planning that most American and European cities have,

And, perhaps, more importantly, a lack of government permission to scan the inside and outside of heritage structures may have scuttled such plans, if any existed.

Apple Maps features a three-dimensional city experience with more realistic and colorful details and an interactive globe. (Image: Apple)
This is a shame because India is rich in monuments steeped in centuries of history, and it would offer people who are not in a position to visit them a chance to explore them at their leisure.

Just imagine being able to explore the Taj Mahal, Charminar, Gateway of India, all the iconic Indian monuments in New Delhi, the sublime Victorian-style buildings that dot the Mumbai skyline,

Even the organized disarray of Indian streets through Live View without ever having to move an inch.

One can only dream. And hope. I hope you're listening, Google and Apple.