Google Maps speed limits

As part of World Sight Day, Google Maps is improving walking directions for people with visual impairments. The Google service can now offer more detailed voice guidance and new types of verbal announcements.

Whether you’re driving or walking, Google Maps already offers voice prompts to accompany visual instructions on the screen. Google now wants to provide more detailed walking directions like proactive alerts that let you know you’re on the correct route.

Maps might note the distance to your next turn, as well as the current direction and street you’re on. Other examples include alerts when you’re crossing a large road.

Frequent updates like these not only help a visually impaired person get from A to B, they can also give us more confidence and reassurance when we travel alone. With detailed voice guidance in Google Maps, my journey fades into the background and I can focus more on what I’ll do at my final destination.

This accessibility feature was “built from the ground up by, and for, people with vision impairments.” Google also touts how it can be useful for users that want a “screen-free experience on their next walking trip,” which has interesting applications for audio forms of augmented reality.

Similar to the announcements you might hear at crosswalks or on a bus, everyone can benefit from it. Not everyone will need this level of assistance, but it’s great to know it’s available and only a tap away.

Detailed voice guidance in Google Maps begins rolling out today on Android and iOS. It will be available in the US and Japan before expanding to additional languages and countries.

To turn the feature on, go to your Google Maps settings and select “Navigation.” At the bottom of the list you’ll find the option to enable “Detailed voice guidance,” beneath the “Walking options” heading.

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Abner Li

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