Google wants to help developers make experiences like Maps’ new ‘immersive’ view

Google wants to make it easier for others to make powerful mixed reality experiences with the official release of a new Google Cloud tool, Immersive Stream for XR. The tool lets you scan a QR code or click a link to access a mixed reality experience, and behind the scenes, Google Cloud GPUs will host, render, and stream those experiences to your device, according to a blog post.

Google says it’s already using the technology for its new immersive view in Google Maps, which lets you look at a 3D model of certain cities overlaid with details like traffic and nearby restaurants. But the company is also highlighting other ways to use Immersive Stream for XR, like for placing virtual furniture in augmented reality (not exactly a new idea) or seeing virtual cars while shopping (also not the newest idea).

Immersive Stream for XR was first announced at Google I/O in 2022, but alongside its wide availability on Thursday, Google also revealed that it now supports content made in Unreal Engine 5. Unreal Engine is growing steadily more popular among game developers, but it’s used for many non-game applications as well, and the addition of support for UE5 could be a boon for developers looking to take advantage of Immersive Stream for XR.

Google’s broader ambitions for mixed reality are somewhat up in the air now that we know Google Labs VP Clay Bavor will be leaving the company in March. Google won’t be replacing Bavor; instead, his remit will be split up under other executives at the company.

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