Google just introduced a new Android app to better enable people with limited mobility to use their phones. The app offers people a hands-free way to control their apps with voice commands.
Google has been working on the Voice Access app in beta for two years but Google is now releasing the app globally. It allows users to write text, talk to the Google Assistant and navigate through apps using voice commands, and it also offers more controls like selecting buttons and other controls within an app.
Once Voice Access is activated, the user sees numbers next to everything on the screen that they can interact with. And opt to issue a command using what that numbered item is — like a save button or an options menu — or they can use the number itself, like by saying “click 7,” for example. The user can even ask what the number is labeling if they are unsure of what it is.
Among the available commands are general instructions like “go back,” “show notifications” and “go home.” You can also tell your device to turn on the WiFi or Bluetooth, adjust the volume, open an app or turn off. And when composing text, you can use Voice Access to type, replace, delete, select, cut, copy or paste words, letters and phrases. There’s also the option of formatting certain types of text like email addresses.
Google says that while the app is useful for those with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and spinal cord injuries, also can be helpful for people whose hands are occupied with other tasks.
Voice Access is available now globally, though it currently only supports English commands. Google says it is adding additional language support in the future. You can download Voice Access through Google Play, find out how to set up Voice Access here and learn more about the commands here.