The Best New Google Accessibility Features

The Best New Google Accessibility Features

Google has been working hard to add more accessibility features to your Android phone. The company recently revealed some of these as part of a feature update announced on Global Accessibility Awareness Day. The new features include AI powered image captions to help people with low vision, an easier way to find objects, and detailed accessibility data for places listed on Google Maps (on Android, iOS, and desktop). Here are the best new accessibility features coming to Google products.

An easier way to find objects

For people with low vision, Google’s Lookout for Android tool is a boon for independence. It allows you to use your phone’s camera to find out more about things around you. Google is now rolling out Lookout’s Find mode in beta, which lets you locate objects in your immediate space. Google says that you will be able to select from seven categories of items (including bathrooms, seating, and tables) and use the camera to spot them. This feature will tell you which direction the object or place is in, and how far it is from you. Lookout can also now immediately provide AI-generated captions for photos taken directly in the app.

Type by just looking at your phone

Look to Speak is getting a new feature that takes text out of the equation. This Android tool has been around since 2020 and allows users to simply look at prewritten customized phrases to have their phone speak them aloud. Google says it makes communication easier for people with cognitive challenges and literacy related issues, and can even help surmount language barriers.Now, instead of having to look at phrases, users can set emoji and photos to read out preselected phrases instead. For instance, looking at the hand waving emoji can make your phone say, “Hello.”

Easier access to accessibility information in Google Maps

Google has made it easier to find accessibility-related information in Google Maps, regardless of platform. The company says this information is now available for over 50 million locations. To find it easily, there is an accessibility icon in the app that gives you details about how accessibility friendly the location is. While this icon was previously available on Google Maps for Android and iPhone, it’s now also available on desktop.

Improved walking instruction for people with low vision

In the Google Maps app for iOS and Android, the Lens feature is getting better at giving you walking instructions. Intended for people who have low vision or are blind, the app’s walking instructions now read out the names and categories of places near you, and tell you how far away each place is as well. Google says its voice guidance feature will let you know if you’re going in the right direction, redirect you if you’re not, and even tell you if you’re at a busy intersection.

Better support for information about hearing devices

Locations that support Auracast, a technology that casts audio to hearing devices, can now display that information on their business profile in Google Maps. If you have an Auracast-enabled Bluetooth hearing aid, this information will benefit your visits to popular venues such as auditoriums, gyms, and theaters.

Enhanced Sound Notifications alerts

The Sound Notifications feature alerts you when a smoke alarm goes off, a doorbell rings, or when there are other sounds around you. It works by sending push notifications, firing your phone’s flash, or vibrating the phone. Google says Sound Notifications now has a better setup process, lets you browse sound events to see which sounds were heard around you, and lets you save custom sounds for appliances in your house.

Comments


Leave a Reply