Google released two Android applications designed to help the blind with walking directions that pair Google Maps with GPS navigation technology. The applications, WalkyTalky and Intersection Explorer, both use spoken walking directions from Google Maps giving the blind (or visually-impaired) the opportunity to explore the layout of streets before navigating them in the physical world.
WalkyTalky is an audible directions app, while Intersection Explorer features touch exploration. Even if you’re not blind, these new apps will appeal to map nerds who like to virtually wander.
The first application is called WalkyTalky, and it provides direct access to the walking directions component of Google Maps. Not surprisingly, this application reads directions aloud. Unlike the regular Android navigation app, however, WalkyTalky also says the names of streets and intersections as you walk by and through them. This is a handy little feature that will help people (blind or not) keep their bearings.
Touch Navigation for Visually Impaired
The second application, called Intersection Explorer, is a touch exploration app. The app starts out at the your current location (you can change this by entering a different address). You can then touch the screen and move your finger along the app to “explore” the neighborhood. As you “explore,” the app will speak the directions and streets your finger is on. If you get lost, you can also trace your finger in a circle on the screen and the app will call out each street you pass over, along with its corresponding compass direction.
These new apps are available in the Android Market for free. Be sure to head on over to the official Google Eyes-Free Android blog for more information on apps for the visually-impaired.