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Google updates accessibility features in Maps, Chrome on mobile, Assistant, more

Google is making it easier for people with disabilities to use various services.

Published onOctober 17, 2023

Google Accessibility Updates 2023 Guided Frame Group Selfie
  • Today, there are more Google accessibility features as well as updates to existing products.
  • Google Maps gets a bunch of updates, including a Live View screen reader.
  • Guided Frame, Assistant Routines, and a new disabled-own business badge in Maps are other highlights.

Smartphones are the world’s greatest tool for making life easier. However, not everyone uses smartphones in the same way. Some people have disabilities that hinder using phones and other tech. Likewise, technology companies have a responsibility to assist disabled folks in accessing experiences able-bodied individuals take for granted.

With that in mind, Google is announcing a whole slew of new accessibility-related updates today. These new features should make people’s lives easier and make the world more equitable.

Below, we’ve rounded up eight recent accessibility updates.

Google accessibility updates 2023

  • Screen reader for Live View: You can use Live View in Google Maps to help orient yourself in unfamiliar locations. With a newly incorporated screen reader, Live View is now more useful and easier to use by folks with impaired vision. This is rolling out today to iOS and will come to Android later this year.
  • Accessible walking routes: Maps will also make finding wheelchair-accessible walking routes easier. Wherever Google has data available, iOS and Android users worldwide can now request wheelchair-friendly walking routes when looking for directions in Maps.
  • New iconography: When searching for businesses and locations in Maps for Android Auto and Android Automotive, a new ♿ icon will appear next to some results. This will indicate that those locations are wheelchair-friendly with step-free entrances, accessible restrooms, etc. Additionally, businesses owned by disabled people can now promote that fact within Maps using a new disabled-owned business badge.
  • Better Assistant Routines: When you make an Assistant Routine, you’ll now have more choices as to how that routine is presented. You can upload your own images for the shortcut, increase the size of the shortcut, and change other style attributes.
  • URL autocorrect in Chrome: If you’re using Chrome on a desktop, entering an incorrect URL in the Omnibar won’t stop you from visiting the page you intended to visit. That’s because Google will autocorrect the URL and take you where it thinks you want to go. Today, Chrome for Android and iOS will also have this functionality.
  • Magnifier app: Pixel phones from the Pixel 5 forward can now use the Magnifier app. As one would expect, this app allows you to zoom in on things to get a better view.
  • Guided Frame is better than ever: Guided Frame gives audio, haptic, and high-contrast visual cues while you’re taking a selfie. Previously, this worked only with the front-facing camera and only on people. Now, it works on pets, food, and documents and can be used on the rear camera, too. Phones from the Pixel 6 series forward support this tool.

Google says it remains committed to rolling out ever more accessibility features to make all its products easy to use by everyone. In fact, it has an entire team dedicated to supporting disabled individuals, if you need it.

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