Android 'Voice Access' Lets You Control a Phone by Speaking to it


Google is making it easier for those with disabilities to interact with Android.

The company on Monday announced a handful of updates—including Voice Access Beta—meant to make the mobile operating system more accessible.

Designed for "people who have difficulty manipulating a touch screen due to paralysis, tremor, temporary injury or other reasons," Voice Access Beta allows folks to control their device by voice. Tell a smartphone or tablet to "open Chrome," for instance, or interact with the screen by saying "click next" or "scroll down."

Unfortunately, the beta program is currently full; no more testers are being accepted at the moment. In the meantime, users can tap into a handful of other features, including a tool to help develop accessible apps, Android N improvements for the visually impaired, an improved Chromebook screen reader, and the ability to edit documents with your voice.

"Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population will have a disability during their lifetime, which can make it hard for them to access and interact with technology, and limits the opportunity that technology can bring," Eve Andersson, manager of accessibility engineering at Google, wrote in a blog post.

"That's why it's so important to build tools to make technology accessible to everyone—from people with visual impairments who need screen readers or larger text, to people with motor restrictions that prevent them from interacting with a touch screen, to people with hearing impairments who cannot hear their device's sounds," she added.

Developers can dive into new features like the Accessibility Scanner to test apps and receive suggestions about how to enhance convenience. Plus, Android N has been updated to include Vision Settings so people can control magnification, font and display size, and TalkBack from the Welcome screen.

Google Docs also now allows typing, editing, and formatting using voice commands.

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