Google Maps app on an iPhone X

How to get new, more detailed spoken instructions from Google Maps

New 'Detailed Voice Guidance' option has been developed to help those who are blind and visually impaired navigate the streets.

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Google Maps is already the default choice for many when it comes to navigation, be it by car, public transport, or on foot, thanks to the accurate instructions spoken by Google Assistant.

Now though, the detail of those instructions can be turned up to a new level. Launched this week to coincide with World Sight Day, a new system called Detailed Voice Guidance gives far more detailed walking instructions.

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Google intends this to be primarily used by the world's 36 million people who are blind and the 217 million who are visually impaired, but anyone can switch the new feature on and try it out. The audio tool is the first to be created from scratch by Google employees with visual impairments.

We reckon it could be really helpful when navigating a new and complex city for the first time, as instead of merely telling you to turn left or right, the Google Assistant now says repeatedly how far away the next turn is, and gives extra detail like how large and busy a road is you need to cross.

To switch on the new feature, open Google Maps, tap the three-lined icon in the top-left corner, then tap on 'Settings,' then 'Navigation,' and head to 'Detailed voice guidance,' and the 'Walking options' heading.

A video published by Google, embedded below, shows how the system works when helping a blind Google employee walk around Tokyo. The Assistant says things like: "Head west on Roppongi Street. It's about 30 meters to your next turn," and: "Sakurada Street is ahead on your route. It's a large road. Use caution while crossing."

Detailed Voice Guidance also speaks up to reassure the person they are still walking along the correct route, and reminds them of when the next turning is, rather than remaining silent and waiting until they are closer.

Wakana Sugiyama, a business analyst from Google who is registered blind, said in a company 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."

Detailed Voice Guidance is available now for the iOS and Android versions of the Google Maps app, but at launch is only offered in English in the United States and in Japanese in Japan. Google says support in other countries and languages is on the way.

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