Google Text-to-speech may not be the sexiest app out there, but it's a particularly useful one for many people, especially those who make use of accessibility options such as Talkback on Android phones. The last meaningful update to it came back in April (v3.11) with a few new languages (Bangla (India), Czech, Khmer, Nepali, Sinhala, and Ukrainian) as well as improvements to voices and better number processing.
The latest update brings the app up to version 3.13.3 and includes support for two more languages: Filipino and Greek. Read More
I often forget how easy things are for me because I can see the world around me and recognize objects and read words. But for those who are blind or partially visually impaired, simple tasks like knowing the expiry date on the milk carton can be very complicated.
That's where the Be My Eyes service comes into play. Already available on iOS, the app has landed on Android and connects sighted volunteers with visually impaired users who need help with something. It uses an audio-video call to share what the blind/visually impaired person is seeing and allow them to talk to the sighted person and ask them questions. Read More
Google's Text-to-speech (TTS) is an accessibility feature that's long been a part of Android. It's a screen reader that can read aloud anything currently on display, a vital utility for users who are blind or partially-sighted. TTS isn't updated very often, but when it is it's usually to add something meaningful. The last update added support for new languages, as well as pronunciation and intonation improvements. We've now been made aware that there's also an experimental always-on language detection switch, available to those using Android O. Read More
Google Maps began showing data on a location's wheelchair accessibility late last year, and now it's going a step further. Users are invited to help Google build a more robust database of accessibility details in Maps by adding their own observations. You even get contributor points for it. Read More
Over the years, Android has built up a decent array of accessibility options to help make devices easier to use for its diverse user base. Each new version of the OS attempts to add even more useful features, and Android O is no different. So far we've had 3 developer previews of Android 8.0 ahead of its launch later this summer, and at some point along the way Google added a couple of new accessibility features. Namely, separate volume controls and a new way to use the accessibility shortcut. Read More
Did you know that you can set your Android device to read selected text back to you with a simple tap? This isn't a new feature, it hit a while back with the TalkBack 5.2 update in April. And though we knew it was there, we didn't really know how cool it would end up being. Now that we've had the chance to try it out for ourselves, there's a good chance some of you might want to turn this particular feature on, whether you have a visual disability or not. And, on Android O it has a small twist. Read More
Android Lollipop introduced screen pinning: a way for you to lock your device into one app until a specific shortcut was tapped to take you out of it and let you switch to something else.
In Lollipop, a screen is pinned by going to Recents and tapping the green pin button at the bottom right of any app card, and it is unpinned in one of two ways: short tapping Recents and Back simultaneously if no Accessibility service is enabled in your Settings at all, or long tapping Recents if at least one Accessibility service is switched on. That created several problems:
- the confusion over which shortcut to use depending on whether you have some Accessibility service enabled,
- the automatic switch to Recents each time you unpinned (you were pressing Recents after all...), which meant that you had to tap the app again to go back to using it,
- and more recently, the conflict with Multi-Window on N, which requires the same long-tap on Recents action to get triggered.
Developers, we know you work hard on your apps. So does Google. But they also know that sometimes it's hard to make apps easy to use when you're elbow deep in their design. To that end, the new Accessibility Scanner app allows you to check other apps for potential problems or possible improvements in terms of accessibility. It's a free download in the Play Store, but at the moment it looks like it's limited to Android 6.0 devices. Read More