The Best Inventions of 2021
November 10, 2021 6:15 AM EST

How many times have you wandered around an unknown location, staring at the map on your phone and wondering where to turn? As a pedestrian, orienting oneself with bird’s-eye directions is far from intuitive. Google Maps’ free Live View mode fixes that, using augmented reality to lay instructions on top of what you’re seeing live on the street via your smartphone camera’s viewfinder—“effectively aligning your map with the real world,” says Andre Le, lead designer for Live View. So far, Google has Street View coverage for about half the world, and Live View was launched in tricky multi­level transit hubs, airports and malls in Tokyo prior to the Olympic Games (as well as in Zurich). The company is still piloting indoor locations in the U.S., such as shopping malls, but tens of millions have already used Live View globally. —Alison Van Houten

More Must-Read Stories From TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com.

EDIT POST