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At Google’s annual I/O developer conference, the company announced a number of new AR features that will be integrated into its core mobile offerings — Search and Maps.
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- A new feature is being added to Search that will give users the ability to view objects or products in AR. For example, after a user searches for a certain pair of shoes, they would have the option to view the shoes in AR, enabling them to place the shoes next to an outfit to see if they match. Google has already partnered with several high-profile companies in building out this experience, including New Balance, Target, Volvo, and Wayfair.
- Google Maps’ newly announced AR feature will leverage a user’s smartphone camera to superimpose walking directions over real-world streets. The feature will only be available on Google’s Pixel smartphones at first, but it’ll likely expand to other compatible devices in the future.
Here’s what it means: Google is seemingly set on leveraging AR as a feature to drive higher engagement among its core product segments.
Adding AR features in both Search and Maps allows Google to improve the consumer experience by using a technology that’s being adopted in growing numbers. Business Insider Intelligence expects the number of mobile AR users to near 2.5 billion by 2023, up from 1 billion in 2018.
As more users flock to take advantage of Google’s new features, it could help promote the company’s services to businesses that want their AR experiences to be featured in both Search and Maps. This opens up the opportunity for Google to drive up revenue from advertisements; global AR ad revenues are expected to surpass $2 billion by 2022, according to ARtillry.
The bigger picture: These new AR features are just the first step in a larger strategy by Google to monetize AR.
Google’s integration of AR into its core apps enables the tech giant to familiarize its users with its take on the tech and gain valuable insights into what they want from their AR experiences. Google could lean on consumer familiarity to monetize its AR endeavors with a physical product, like an AR headset; annual AR headset shipments are expected to near 2.5 million by 2024, up from just below 300,000 in 2019, according to Business Insider Intelligence.
Google could also build out a unique and attractive platform by leaning on the insights it gains from business and consumer users of its AR features. The company could then license this tech to headset manufacturers, opening up another valuable revenue stream.
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