Google has once again updated its G Suite office applications with some welcome new features, this time for search and accessibility.
In Google Drive, G Suite users can now search within specific folders. On the desktop, a right-click on a folder or selecting a folder from the drop-down menu will offer up a new option to search within that folder. I was frankly surprised that this didn't already exist in such a straightforward way, so I bet it will get a lot of use. Read More
Lyft's been on a roll this year when it comes to adding assistive technologies to its ridesharing app. Back in April, it was still playing catch-up with Uber by adding new features to help the hard of hearing. Now it's working together with Aira, a high-tech assistive service for the visually impaired, to help make grabbing a ride easier for everyone. Read More
Google started contacting developers last month with a bit of an ultimatum: make sure accessibility mode is only used to help disabled users or risk being banned from the Play Store. Android's accessibility services have been used for a great many things over the years, so this change in policy caught many developers off guard. However, Google is now notifying developers that it's pausing the ban as it looks into how apps can make "responsible and innovative" use of accessibility features. Read More
Recently, Google has notified developers of apps that use Accessibility features for purposes other than helping users with disabilities to cease using those APIs or otherwise unpublish their app. The impetus for this move appears to be existence of (now removed) apps in the Play Store which use Accessibility features in conjunction with a vulnerability patched as part of the September security update to install malware. Read More
For years, Android has allowed apps to modify the behavior of other applications, using Accessibility Services. While the intended purpose is for developers to create apps for users with disabilities, the API is often used for other functionality (to overlay content, fill in text fields, etc.). LastPass, Button Mapper, Signal Spy, Tasker, and Greenify are just a few examples of applications heavily using this API. Read More
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. There's also a new setting for language detection on devices running Oreo and a few more improvements to how the voices sound. 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