Google Maps Tests 3D Buildings Display During Navigation

What you should know

  • Google Maps now allows users to see 3D buildings while navigating on the mobile app for iOS and Android, and on Android Auto.
  • To enable 3D buildings, users must hit the layer button before starting navigation and select the 3D option under Map details.
  • If a 3D building obstructs the view of the route, it will become nearly transparent, allowing the user to see through it.
  • The 3D building feature is not yet available on all iOS and Android devices, and is even rarer on Android Auto.
  • 3D buildings can act as landmarks for drivers in unfamiliar areas, as they are done to scale.

Full Story

Google Maps has had 3D building visuals for a while now. But, get this, they’re now letting you see these 3D buildings while you’re on the move from point A to B. This is available on both iOS and Android mobile apps, and even on Android Auto. Cool, right?

But hold your horses! It’s not automatic. You’ve got to turn it on yourself. To do this, just hit the layer button before you start your journey. Then under Map details, give the 3D button a tap. Start your navigation and zoom in a little. Voila! You’ve got 3D buildings popping up.

I first noticed this feature on my Pixel 6 Pro. It was running the latest Android 14 QPR2 beta. A Reddit user (yeah, I know, Reddit, right?) mentioned that if a 3D building blocks your route, it becomes almost transparent. You can see right through it!

This Redditor, who goes by the handle “seemebreakthis”, posted an image of these “semi-opaque” 3D buildings. He was using Google Maps on Android Auto. He’s a BMW i4 450 owner living in Hong Kong and he wrote, “I started to notice this nice 3D view on my AA [Android Auto] Google Maps for maybe a week or so. I don’t recall making any changes in Google Map or AA settings during this time, so I believe it just activated on its own. Looks really nice to me. The buildings are semi-opaque so they don’t really get in the way even for a city like the one I live in with an insane number of tall buildings everywhere.”

According to 9to5Google, not everyone has this feature yet. It’s even rarer among Android Auto users. So, it seems Google might be testing this with one of its infamous A/B tests. Have you seen these 3D buildings while navigating? Let us know in the comments. Remember, it’s not on by default. You’ve got to set it up before you start your journey.

So, why would you want to see buildings in 3D while driving? Well, since they’re to scale, they can act as landmarks. This is especially helpful if you’re driving in an unfamiliar area.

Derrick Flynn
Derrick Flynn
With over four years of experience in tech journalism, Derrick has honed his skills and knowledge to become a vital part of the PhonesInsights team. His intuitive reviews and insightful commentary on the latest smartphones and wearable technology consistently provide our readers with valuable information.


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