Google is working to make Android even more accessible for users with visual motor impairments. The search giant is beta-testing an app called Voice Access, which allows Android users to navigate their smartphones using just their voice.
Helping users navigate devices with voice commands
Google’s new app will allow users to navigate between their home screen and other screens and interact with the content they are watching by using their voice. Voice Access can be used by users for text editing and dictation as well.
At last year’s Google I/O conference, the search giant was supposed to introduce the Voice Access service, but it did not do so. A user will need to have “Okay Google” enabled because this new app relies on the same technology that powers the hands-free commands.
In a blog post, Google’s Manager of Accessibility Engineering, Eve Andersson, wrote, “We recently launched Voice Access Beta, an app that allows people who have difficulty manipulating a touch screen due to paralysis, tremor, temporary injury or other reasons to control their Android devices by voice.”
Andersson gave an example to explain the process, saying one just has to say “open Chrome” or “go home” to navigate around the phone, or the user can interact with the screen by saying “click next” or “scroll down.” Google has a separate page to help users download the app, but the app is no longer available for download as it has already gotten the required number of testers, the page says.
Google has more in store for the visually impaired
There is more to it. The search giant is not just coming up with the Voice Access app, but it has other plans in mind too for visually impaired users. Google is planning to add new features with the upcoming Android N release.
Google says that inAndroid N, which is currently in early preview stage, it has added a new Vision Settings menu to the initial setup page to make those options “front and center,” thus enabling people with visual impairments to set up their device without someone else’s help and activate the features they need.
Vision settings include options to control display size, magnification, font size and TalkBack, which provides audio cues to help users navigate their screens. Recently, Google also debuted a new app for developers called Accessibility Scanner. The app helps developers optimize their apps for accessibility.