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Google’s Lookout app helps blind people discover the world around them

Google has been working on lots of awesome things that didn’t get a mention during its I/O keynote on Tuesday. One of those things is an app called Lookout that helps blind and visually impaired people discover the world around them. Here’s how it will work when it lands on Android later this year.

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Android P adds new Accessibility Menu for motor-impaired users

One of the main focuses in today's Google I/O keynote was accessibility. For example, one of the first announcements was a new morse code input for Gboard, giving motor-impaired users a much easier way to type. Another improvement wasn't as prominently featured - the new Accessibility Menu.

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LastPass finally gets support for Oreo autofill, keeps accessibility option

LastPass began its winding path to support Android Oreo's autofill API in August, but the day is finally here: The popular password manager has pushed support for Oreo autofill to its stable, non-beta app. Accessibility-based autofill is still available for older apps (and Chrome) that don't yet support the new implementation.

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LastPass Beta updated with support for using both accessibility and Oreo autofill, plus fewer unneeded prompts

LastPass is how many of us choose to store our passwords, and the Android app is usually fast to support new Android features. If you want even faster access, there's the LastPass beta release. That one has just been updated with more robust autofill support—both accessibility-based and the new Oreo implementation at the same time. You should also get fewer autofill prompts when you don't need them.

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G Suite adds search within folders along with accessibility upgrades

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.

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Lyft announces a new partnership with Aira to make ridesharing easier for the visually impaired

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.

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Google pauses accessibility app ban while it considers 'responsible and innovative' uses of the accessibility services

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.

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Toast overlay being used by malicious Android apps to install additional malware

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.

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Google will remove Play Store apps that use Accessibility Services for anything except helping disabled users

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 SpyTasker, and Greenify are just a few examples of applications heavily using this API.

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Latest Google Text-to-speech update adds Filipino and Greek [APK Download]

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.

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