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Google Maps just got a feature every navigation app should steal

Published May 22nd, 2020 7:31AM EDT
Google Maps Accessibility
Image: XanderSt/Shutterstock

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  • A new Google Maps accessibility feature called Accessible Places will be available to users in Australia, Japan, UK, and the US.
  • The feature will display a wheelchair icon on the map to indicate that a place supports wheelchair access.
  • Google Maps listings will also offer information about accessible seating, restrooms, and parking, with users and business owners encouraged to update information for the places they visit or own.
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To celebrate the Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Google announced new accessibility features for its products, including a new Google Maps feature that all navigation maps out there should copy. That’s support for wheelchair accessible places that will help people better plan trips to new places by knowing in advance whether the location supports wheelchair access.

If you require support for anything that has wheels to access a building, not just wheelchairs, you can access the new feature inside the app by looking for Accessible Places under the Accessibility menu in the app’s Settings tab, as seen in the animation below. Once enabled, the information will be displayed more prominently in Google Maps via a wheelchair icon.

Google Maps Accessible Places feature: How to enable it. Image source: Google

The feature will indicate accessible entrances, seating, restrooms, and parking, crucial information that wheelchair users need before planning a trip to a new location. Google Maps will also indicate if it’s confirmed that a place does not have an accessible entrance. Such information is even more critical during the current health crisis when people are advised to go outside only when absolutely necessary. Wheelchair users, as well as parents pushing strollers or pulling heavy equipment, should know whether they’re able to access a place before arriving at their destination.

Google Maps will initially support more than 15 million places around the world, a figure that doubled since 2017 thanks to 120 million Local Guides and other people who shared this sort of information. In total, more than 500 million wheelchair accessibility updates were made to Google Maps.

But for the feature to get even better, it’s up to business owners to update their listings with accessibility information about wheelchair access, something that Google encourages store owners to do. Google says that it’s rolling out an update to allow iPhone users to more easily contribute accessibility information to Maps. Google has a guide on how to update locations with accessibility data at this link. The following animation shows how Google Maps users can add accessibility info about places on an Android phone:

Google Maps Accessible Places feature: How to update information. Image source: Google

The Accessible Places will roll out for Google Maps users in Australia, Japan, UK, and the US initially, with other markets to follow in the future. The following video gives us a short demo of the accessibility feature in action:

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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