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Google Maps adds new walking prompts for the visually impaired and easily lost

Google has announced its Google Maps app is adding more advanced voice guidance when using walking directions.

On World Sight Day, the company is rolling out new types of verbal announcements for those on foot, which will aid the visually impaired, as well as those who like some extra reassurance when navigating a new place.

For example, the app will now proactively tell users they’re on the right track, will alert them when approaching busy intersections where more care is required, and offer spoken prompts informing those who’ve left their route that they’re being put back on the right track.

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The post on the Google blog is from Wakana Sugiyama, a legally blind woman living in Tokyo.

She wrote: “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 may not sound extraordinary to those with sight, but for people who are blind or have low vision, this can help us explore new and unfamiliar places.”

While the new feature is primarily designed for those with sight issues, it’ll also help those fully-sighted folks who’d rather leave their phones in their pocket while walking.

Currently it’s available in English in the US and in Japanese in Japan for Google Maps on Android and iOS. It can be accessed from the Google Maps settings under the Navigation section. You’ll see “Detailed voice guidance,” beneath the “Walking options” heading.

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

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