Singapore – The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Google will be expanding on its partnership to create more augmented reality (AR) experiences, which will be directly available on Google Maps for the first time.

This partnership with Google builds upon the success of Merli’s Immersive Adventure – an innovative AR tour to six enchanting stops around Singapore through STB’s Visit Singapore Travel Guide app launched in January this year.

As part of this pilot, STB will continue to use Google’s ARCore and Geospatial Creator to develop new location-based AR experiences. 

Unlike before when STB’s AR experiences were made available only on its travel app, these new AR experiences can soon be discovered and enjoyed entirely within the Google Maps mobile app, one of two cities in which these experiences will be available.

Moreover, STB has also onboarded over a dozen other tourism stakeholders in Singapore to join the pilot, who themselves will also develop location-based AR experiences to provide 30 places of interests with AR experiences, creating an immersive journey across key tourism precincts in Singapore.

With this expansion, the AR content will now be visible remotely via Street View on the Google Maps mobile app for a seamless and accessible experience regardless of location. Users near the landmarks can also discover the AR content on their mobile devices by scanning their surroundings using Lens in Maps, as it overlays the physical surroundings in the real world.

The full experience will be available on Google Maps later this Summer. STB plans to further grow the number of location-based AR experiences in Google Maps beyond 30, building on its goal of making Singapore the world’s first “AR City” in Google Maps.

Talking about this latest offering, Eric Lai, group product manager, AR, said, “We’re thrilled to unlock a new way for people to interact, engage and discover Singapore’s vibrant culture and history on Google Maps. Through location-based AR experiences, we’re making it more intuitive for over a billion users to discover this iconic city in a way like never before.”

Meanwhile, Simon Ang, director, The Collaboratory, Singapore Tourism Board, commented, “We are excited to extend our partnership with Google to bring even more immersive and innovative experiences to travellers through AR on Google Maps. This partnership underscores STB’s dedication to testing the use of frontier technologies which can revolutionise the visitor’s experience of tomorrow.”

“This pilot greatly benefits local businesses, who can leverage AR to tell different stories over the same spaces, and have their content discoverable and accessible on Google Maps. It also benefits travellers as it aids their discovery of new places of interest, and enriches them with a deeper understanding of Singapore’s rich history and culture through interactive storytelling,” he added.

United States – Google adds the latest update on Google Maps – a new COVID layer, which will enable users to view critical information about COVID-19 cases in an area, and therefore help them make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do amid the pandemic. 

The new layer is the latest COVID-related layer on the app. Layer is the app’s staple management button to see maps in a categorized view, and since the pandemic struck, the tech giant has updated Google Maps with COVID-related layers such as COVID-19 alerts in transit and COVID checkpoints.

The layer is labelled “COVID-19 info.” When users click on it, they will be able to see a seven-day average of new COVID cases per 100,000 people for the area of the map they’re looking at, and they will also be able to see a label that indicates whether the cases are trending up or down, explained product manager Sujoy Banerjee in an update post.


By using the color coding feature, users will also be able to easily distinguish the density of new cases in an area. The trending case data will be visible at the country level for all 220 countries and territories that Google Maps supports, along with state or province, county, and city-level data where available. 

According to Banerjee, data featured in the COVID layer comes from multiple authoritative sources, including Johns Hopkins, the New York Times, and Wikipedia. Google chose these sources as their data comes from public health organizations like the World Health Organization, government health ministries, along with state and local health agencies and hospitals. Many of these sources already power COVID case information in Google Search.

“While getting around is more complicated these days, our hope is that these Google Maps features will help you get where you need to be as safely and efficiently as possible,” said Banerjee.

The COVID layer starts rolling out worldwide on Android and iOS this week.