Google Maps Gains Detailed Voice Guidance for Visually Impaired Users

Google Maps has gained a new detailed voice guidance feature to help users with impaired vision get where they're going to on foot.

With a launch timed to honor World Sight Day, the feature continually reminds the user that they're on the correct route, the distance until their next turn and the direction they're walking in.

Detailed voice guidance also provides the user with warnings when approaching large intersections, and lets them know if they've accidentally left their route by offering a spoken notification that they're being re-routed.

The new accessibility feature will be a welcome addition for users who are blind or who have moderate-to-severe vision impairments, but the reminders could be handy for people with normal eyesight, too. As Google notes in a blog post:
While this new feature can be enormously helpful to people with visual impairments, it can also help someone who wants a more screen-free experience on their next walking trip. 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.

To enable the accessibility feature in Google Maps, go to the Settings section of the app and tap Navigation. At the bottom of the list, beneath the "Walking options" heading, is an option to turn on Detailed voice guidance.

Detailed voice guidance for walking navigation is rolling out now on Android and iOS, and is initially available in English in the United States and Japanese in Japan, with support for additional languages and countries on the way.

Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Google Maps Gains ‘Live View’ Augmented Reality Walking Directions

Augmented reality walking directions in Google Maps got a step closer today with news that a beta version of the AR feature will be rolling out to users of the app over the next couple of weeks (via TechCrunch).


Google revealed AR walking directions earlier this year, when it launched an early alpha mode for Google Pixel owners and users of Google Maps Local Guides, but now it's making the feature available for all Google Maps users with ARKit-compatible devices (iPhone 6s and later, all models of iPad Pro, and 5th and 6th generation iPads).

The AR directions include large arrows and street markers overlaid on the real world. These can be viewed by tapping a nearby location on the map, tapping the Directions button, and then tapping Walking, which should make the "Live View" option appear near the bottom of the screen.

According to Google, the Live View feature isn't meant to be used with your iPhone held up in front of you as you walk – rather, its designed to provide a quick and simple way of orienting yourself if you enter unfamiliar territory.

Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Google Maps Expands Real-Time Bikesharing Info to 23 More Cities

Google Maps this week expanded real-time bikesharing information to 23 additional cities in 16 countries around the world.


In addition to New York City, the feature is now available in Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Chicago, Dublin, Hamburg, Helsinki, Kaohsiung, London, Los Angeles, Lyon, Madrid, Mexico City, Montreal, New Taipei City, Rio de Janeiro, the San Francisco Bay Area, São Paulo, Toronto, Vienna, Warsaw, and Zurich.

In these cities, users can now locate bikeshare stations and pinpoint how many bikes are available near them in the Google Maps app for iOS or Android. Users can also find out whether there are empty spaces at bikesharing stations.

The feature is powered by real-time transit data company Ito World.


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Google Maps for iOS Gains Live Traffic Info for Buses, Transit Crowdedness Predictions

Google today announced a major update for Google Maps on both Android and iOS, introducing new transit-related features.

Google Maps will now provide details on live traffic delays for buses in places where real-time information doesn't exist from local transit agencies, which will let Maps users see if a bus will be late, how long the delay might be, and how long travel might take.


The app will provide details on exactly where delays are on the map so riders will know what to expect before getting on a bus.

Along with live traffic information for buses, Google is adding crowdedness predictions for transit routes. Based on past ride information, Google Maps will offer up details on how crowded a bus, train, or subway is likely to be.


The new Google Maps features are rolling out today on Android and iOS in close to 200 cities around the world.


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Food Ordering Features Now Available in Google’s Mobile Apps

Google has incorporated food ordering features into its mobile apps, allowing iOS and Android users to order food directly from a range of companies without having to install an additional app or visit a website.


The functionality is available across U.S. cities in Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Assistant apps, and works through partnerships with existing delivery companies including DoorDash, Postmates, Delivery, Slice, and ChowNow.

In Google Search and Google Maps, there's a new "Order Online" button that appears when users search for a supported restaurant. Pressing the button lets you choose between pickup and delivery, and then select available food from the menu.

The feature works similarly in Google Assistant, which also supports reordering past selections. Users ask Google to order food from a specific restaurant, then they can choose a delivery service before selecting and paying for their order, all through the Google interface.

In addition to the partnerships mentioned above, Google plans to add support for Suppler and others in the future. As The Verge notes, major delivery services like Uber Eats, Deliveroo, Grubhub, and Just Eat are currently not supported.


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Google Maps Gains Version of Classic ‘Snake’ Game for April Fools’ Day

Google Maps has temporarily gained a new trick for April Fool's, with users of the mobile app able to play a geographical version of the classic game Snake.


To play the game, simply launch the Google Maps app, tap the menu icon in the top-left corner of the interface, then select Play Snake.

Pick which city you'd like to play in – options include Cairo, London, San Francisco, São Paulo, Sydney and Tokyo – and then start picking up as many passengers as you can without bumping into yourself or falling off the map.

Snake rolls out on Android and iOS today, and Google says it will be available to play in the app for about a week. A standalone site has also been set up for anyone who wants to feed their Snake addiction beyond that time.

Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Google Maps on iOS Gains ‘Follow’ Button So You Can Keep Track of Events and Offers From Local Businesses

Google Maps this week updated its iOS app with a new "Follow" feature, letting you keep track of events and news from your favorite local restaurants, bakeries, or bars. You can follow a location by searching for it in Google Maps on iOS, and then tapping "Follow" under the hours of operation.


After you follow a business, all of their updates then appear in the new "For You" tab of Google Maps. In this area, you can keep track of all the notable updates and promotions offered by the various companies you follow in the app.

This is a feature that has been on Google Maps for Android since last fall, and is now just rolling out to Apple device owners. It works in conjunction with Google's revamped My Business app, which also launched last fall, allowing businesses to post updates to their profiles on Google in the same fashion as a Facebook post or Tweet [Direct Link].

Because of this, many users can now turn to Google Maps as a sort of alternative to keeping up with their favorite local spots, if they've turned away from Facebook in recent months. These posts on Google Maps can include notifications about upcoming events, special offers for customers, menu updates, and more.

The Follow button in Google Maps is rolling out to all iOS users starting this week.


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Google Maps Begins Rolling Out Support for Driver Speed Limits and Speed Traps

Google is currently rolling out support for road speed limits and speed traps in its navigation app, Google Maps.

When drivers are using the app, the speed limit feature shows the speed limit of the road they are driving on in the lower left of the screen.

Image via Android Police

Speed traps are indicated with a small camera icon and shown on the visible map area. According to Android Police, Google Maps also gives drivers an audio warning as they approach a speed trap.

Up until now, Google restricted testing of its speed limit feature in the last couple of years to the San Francisco Bay Area in California and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Image via Mashable

However, Android Police was recently tipped about speed limit sightings in New York City and Los Angeles, all but confirming the rollout has already begun in the U.S.

The speed limit feature is initially limited to users in the United Kingdom, Denmark, and the United States, while the speed camera icons should soon start appearing for users in several additional countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Russia.

(Via Mashable.)


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Google Assistant Coming to Google Maps for iOS Today

Google is adding its Google Assistant feature to the Google Maps apps for iOS and Android, Google announced today.

The feature will be available on iPhones starting this afternoon, with Google planning to enable Assistant for Google Maps via an update that's rolling out "shortly."

On iOS and Android devices, Google Assistant will allow Google Maps users to control their navigation, reply to texts, and control music. On Android, it is also able to send messages through various messaging apps, a feature not available on iOS.

It can also do things like calculate your ETA so you can let friends and family know when you're set to arrive.

Google Assistant is already available on iOS devices through the dedicated Google Assistant app, but adding it into Maps makes it more readily accessible for the millions of people who already use the Google Maps app.


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Google Maps Expanding ‘For You’ Recommendations Tab to iOS in Over 40 Countries Today

Google today announced that its Google Maps app for iOS will be updated today with a new "For You" tab in over 40 countries.


"For You" was first announced at Google I/O in May and was initially limited to Android. The feature is designed to "tell you what you need to know about the neighborhoods you care about," such as new restaurants opening nearby, trending spots, and more, based on places you've rated and places you've visited.

The tab is accompanied by a new "Match Score" that predicts which restaurants you're most likely to prefer based on your personal preferences, which is designed to help you to choose between multiple restaurant suggestions.

iPhone users can install the update from the App Store later today. "For You" is also expanding to over 130 countries on Android today.


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