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FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is seen on the Google house at CES 2024, an annual consumer electronics trade show, in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 10, 2024. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo/File Photo/File Photo

Science & Tech

Google introduces new Android features for visually impaired people globally

ISLAMABAD: Google has introduced new accessibility features across its services to empower people with disabilities and enhance the inclusivity of technology.

Key updates include improvements to Google Maps accessibility, expansion of the Look to Speak app, and significant upgrades to the Lookout tool for Android.

The most notable update is to Android’s Lookout tool, designed to assist those with impaired vision or blindness. This tool now boasts advanced AI capabilities, offering real-time directional assistance and enabling users to search for specific objects among seven categories, such as bathrooms and chairs.

The Look to Speak app for Android has added a new text-free option, allowing users to communicate using eye-controlled prewritten words. This feature aims to improve usability and inclusivity for individuals with cognitive impairments, literacy issues, and language barriers.

Project Gameface, previously available only on PCs, is now accessible on Android devices. This technology allows users to control a computer cursor with their head and face movements, providing greater accessibility and flexibility in computing.

Google Maps has also received updates to enhance accessibility. Businesses can now indicate that their maps support Bluetooth devices with Auracast enabled, improving navigation for users with hearing impairments by allowing them to receive audio from broadcast devices at various venues.

Additionally, Google Maps’ comprehensive audio guidance for walking directions is now available on Android and iOS devices in all supported languages.

Based on user feedback, Google has improved its sound notifications system to better alert users to important sounds, such as fire alarms. Enhancements include a refined onboarding process, improved sound event browsing, and the ability to save custom sounds, all aimed at improving accessibility for users with hearing difficulties.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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