Google Maps gets in-depth walking directions with detailed voice guidance

What you need to know

  • On World Sight Day, Google began rolling out detailed voice guidance for Google Maps.
  • The new feature will give in-depth walking instructions in Google Maps, announcing the distance to your next turn, warning of busy intersections, and notifying you if you go off-route.
  • Currently, it is available in English for the U.S. and in Japanese for Japan with additional languages and countries coming in the future.

World Sight Day acknowledges people with blindness and vision impairment on the second Thursday of October every year. The day is meant to bring awareness to the 36 million blind people worldwide and 217 million people who experience moderate-to-severe vision impairments.

To mark the occasion, Google announced detailed voice guidance for Google Maps on October 10. The new feature will aid those with visual impairments by providing more in-depth spoken walking instructions when using Google Maps to navigate.

This feature is the first in Google Maps to be built from the ground up by, and for, people with vision impairments.

When using detailed voice guidance, Google Maps will announce the distance to your next turn, warn you of busy intersections, or notify you when you're going off route. It's these kinds of frequent updates that can help reassure someone when they are visiting a new location.

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.

Not only can detailed voice guidance help those with visual impairments, but it can also be a useful tool for anyone who frequently uses Google Maps to get around. By using the audio-only directions, you'll be able to keep your eyes on your surroundings and get your head out of your phone.

Detailed voice guidance is rolling out to Google Maps users on Android and iOS beginning October 10. To enable the new feature, open the settings menu in Google Maps, select Navigation, and toggle on Detailed voice guidance under Walking options.

Initially, detailed voice guidance will be available for U.S. users in English and in Japanese for Japan. Support for additional countries and languages will be coming in the future. 

Google's making phones more accessible to people with speech and hearing impairments

Jason England