At I/O last year, Google gave us a glimpse at AR-based navigation for Maps. That's all we knew about it until recently when we got a look at how it works via a demo. AR navigation allows Maps to provide directions using visual cues by using the devices' camera. GPS, for all its benefits, isn't particularly accurate in urban areas. AR navigation supplements GPS by making the phone camera a part of what Google calls a Visual Positioning Service (VPS). Today, the company has announced that Local Guides will be the first users to gain access on both Android and iOS.
The reason Google chose Local Guides is primarily due to the fact that they use the service a lot by adding photos, answering questions and the likes. Their feedback would be vital in developing AR navigation, which, Google says, needs a lot of testing. Google will be simultaneously testing the feature on both Android and iOS. Since the beta is all about AR navigation, an ARCore-enabled smartphone is a must. Most modern Android and iOS devices have some form of AR functionality baked into them, so it shouldn't much of a problem.
People who are a part of the trial will receive an update to their Google Maps app. The feature will be switched on via a server-side update to those selected accounts. 9to5google found out that the testing was limited to only a few people in select cities. It may be months or even years before the feature enters beta, let along a full-scale release.
There is a very high likelihood of the service only being available in select cities even after its release. Navigation based on visual cues may be better from a convenience point of view, but integrating such a feature into Maps is no easy feat.