How to Use Google Maps With Voice Guidance

This accessibility feature helps blind and low vision pedestrians

The Google Maps voice guidance feature is intended to help pedestrians with visual impairments navigate on foot. Similar to voice directions, voice guidance provides more verbal clues for the user such as "go straight 25 feet" instead of "go forward."

Information in this article applies to the Google Maps app for Android and iOS. Voice guidance is limited to certain regions of the world; if you can't find it on your phone it, hasn't come to your region yet.

How to Turn on Voice Guidance for Google Maps

To enable voice guidance for Google Maps:

  1. Open the Google Maps app on your mobile device.

  2. Tap your Account icon in the top-right corner.

  3. Tap Settings.

    Open Google Maps, tap your Account icon, then tap Settings.
  4. Scroll down and tap Navigation Settings.

  5. Scroll down and tap the Detailed voice guidance toggle to switch it to the On position.

    You can adjust the volume of voice guidance under Guidance Volume at the top of the Navigation Settings menu.

    Tap Navigation Settings and then tap the Detailed voice guidance toggle to switch it to the On position.

How to Use Google Maps With Voice Directions

With voice guidance enabled, open Google Maps to request walking directions. For example, you can say things like:

  • "Google, navigate to the library by walking."
  • "Google, navigate to 1313 Mockingbird Lane by foot."
  • "Google, navigate to the Apple Store on Duke street by walking."

It's also possible to add pit stops along the way. For example, you can say:

  • "Google, add a grocery store to my current route."
  • "Google, add 1313 Mockingbird Lane to my current route."

If Google Maps finds multiple locations for the destination you requested, the three closest matches will appear on the screen. Unfortunately, Google Maps will not read your options aloud; however, Alexa can if you make Alexa your default voice assistant on Android.

If you don't specify that you want walking directions, Google Maps will provide driving directions by default.

Limitations of Google Maps Voice Directions

Google's directions can only be as accurate as your phone's GPS. When walking, Google Maps will not tell you whether your destination is on the left or right. While voice guidance makes Google Maps more accessible to blind and low vision pedestrians, it is not yet a suitable substitute for other assistive technologies that they normally rely on.

Google Maps Voice Commands

Google will give you regular updates on your progress, but you can ask for further assistance using these voice commands:

  • "What road is this?"
  • “What's the next step?”
  • "What’s my next turn?"
  • "How far away is my next turn?"
  • “How far is my destination?”
  • “How long until I get there?”
  • "Mute voice guidance.”
  • “Unmute voice guidance.”
  • "Restaurants nearby."
  • “When does place close?”
  • "Exit navigation."

Google Voice Guidance vs. Voice Navigation

Google Maps has always supported voice navigation, which gives users real-time driving directions and traffic updates. The voice guidance feature was introduced in October 2019 in celebration of World Sight Day to improve walking directions. Google's goal is to provide screen-free navigation for pedestrians so that they can focus on what's in front of them, much like voice navigation helps drivers keep their eyes on the road.

For example, if you have voice guidance enabled, the Google assistant will reroute you if you veer off path. Voice guidance will also let you know the distance to your next turn, tell you which direction and street you’re currently on, and alert you before you cross a busy road. These features are not just helpful to the visually impaired; voice guidance allows all pedestrians to navigate without having to constantly check their phones.