They rarely get much press attention, but some of the greatest features to come out of the new era of smartphones are related to accessibility. A few months back, blind iPhone user Austin Seraphin wrote about how the device had changed his life. And with Android, Google is also developing technology to help turn these smart phones into a complementary (albeit still rough) set of senses.
Last week, Google launched two new Android applications related to helping the blind better navigate through town. The applications, which are described in detail on the Eyes-Free Android blog, are meant to help make strolling around town a bit easier.
The first application is called WalkyTalky, and it’s pretty straightforward. Fire it up, and the app will prompt you to enter an address or choose from one of your favorite locations. WalkyTalky will begin reading you walking directions aloud, and, unlike the normal Android navigation app, it will also say the names of street addresses as you walk by to help keep your bearings.
The second applications is the appropriately-named Intersection Explorer. After launching the application, you’ll be presented with an interactive map with your current location at the center. By dragging your finger along the screen, you’ll virtually wander through the area as voice cues call out that your finger is heading “West along Market Street” or has “Moved 90 meters to Taylor and Jackson street”. This way you can learn the lay of the land before setting a foot outdoors.
For more on these two applications, be sure to check out the post on the official blog.
In August 2005, Google acquired Android, a small startup company based in Palo Alto, CA. Android’s co-founders who went to work at Google included Andy Rubin (co-founder of Danger), Rich Miner (co-founder of Wildfire), Nick Sears (once VP at T-Mobile), and Chris White (one of the first engineers at WebTV). At the time, little was known about the functions of Android other than they made software for mobile phones. This began rumors that Google was planning to enter...