[Update: Rolling out] Google Maps 10.26 hints at a new “Eyes Free” Walking Navigation Mode
Google Maps for Android has added a handful of useful new features in the last few weeks. In early August, the company added a new “Live View” navigation mode that overlays walking directions in augmented reality. Later that month, Google announced that you’ll soon be able to combine multiple forms of transportation when navigating. This month, we found out that Google quietly added a Street View layer, and earlier today, Google told its Local Guides that Incognito Mode can now be tested in the Android app.
We examined the latest version of the Maps APK that rolled out in closed beta today—version 10.26.67—and we found evidence for another useful navigation feature that’s currently in development. It’s internally called “Eyes Free Mode” and it’ll reduce how often you need to look at your phone when you’re using it to navigate on foot.
Buried in version 10.26.67 are new strings detailing this mode. The strings reveal that the new mode will “[add] more detailed voice guidance during walking navigation.” Enabling this will presumably make the Google Maps app give you detailed walking navigation instructions so you won’t have to look at your phone to see where you need to walk to next. If you accidentally leave the planned route, the app will tell you that you’ll be re-routed.
<string name="EYES_FREE_EXTRA_DETAIL_SETTING">Hear more frequent and detailed audio announcements during walking navigation</string>\n<string name="EYES_FREE_MODE_ONE_DIRECTION_BANNER_TEXT">Tap to enable detailed voice navigation</string>\n<string name="EYES_FREE_MODE_ONE_DIRECTION_CONFIRMATION_TEXT">This option adds more detailed voice guidance during walking navigation. You can turn it off later in Google Maps settings, under Navigation. Would you like to enable it?</string>\n<string name="EYES_FREE_MODE_ONE_DIRECTION_CONFIRMATION_TITLE">Want more detailed voice navigation?</string>\n<string name="EYES_FREE_MODE_REROUTE_NOTIFICATION">It looks like you've left the route, so I'll re-route you.</string>\n<string name="EYES_FREE_OPTIONS_TITLE">Detailed voice guidance</string>
Once the feature rolls out, you should see a banner promoting it once you start walking navigation. The feature can be disabled by going to Settings > Navigation and toggling the mode under “Walking options” at the bottom. The setting doesn’t seem to be available for Local Guides yet, but we’ll track the progress on this new feature and will let you know when it goes live. We also recently spotted evidence that Google Maps will add incident reporting for disabled vehicles, lane closures, and objects on roads, but we haven’t seen evidence that this is rolling out to anyone yet. With how dominant Google’s Map app is for navigation, we expect that they’ll be testing these features vigorously before rolling them out to millions of users worldwide.
Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.
Update: Rolling Out
Google is now rolling out detailed voice guidance in Google Maps. The feature is designed for people with vision impairments. The feature is rolling out today for Android and iOS. You can enable it by going into Settings > Navigation > Detailed voice guidance (found under “Walking options.”) This only works in English in the US and Japanese in Japan.