The new app lets you send texts, turn on Wi-Fi, and scroll via voice. It was built for those with motor and mobility impairments, but could also be useful for those who have their hands full.
Google today unveiled a new app built for those with motor and mobility impairments, dubbed Voice Access, which provides a hands-free experience on Android.
In a blog post, Google said the app could be helpful for those with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, or spinal cord injuries. However, the app could also be useful to those who simply have their hands full.
With Voice Access, Google Assistant is always on and listening. Through a series of vocal commands, it can recreate taps, clicks, and scrolling within apps or on the homescreen of your Android phone. Every “clickable” element on screen is marked by a number, so users can tell the Google Assistant to long-press or expand a particular number to complete tasks.
Voice Access will also activate system-level commands. Rather than having to navigate through settings menus to toggle the Wi-Fi, just say “turn on Wi-Fi” will enable it.
For inputting text and sending messages Voice Access will listen as you dictate the message, but is smart enough to recognize contextual commands, too. Saying “delete the line” or “undo,” for example, will let you edit what you’re typing as well as being able to replace specific words with another. Google has a full range of commands on its support page for text editing and touch controls.
The app, available now, requires Android 5.0+ and needs to be activated in the Accessibility menu of Android’s settings. Once that’s done, the next time you say “OK Google” within earshot of your phone, Voice Access mode will be activated rather than the usual Google Assistant.
For now, it is only available in English, but we’ve reached out to Google to see when it might be updated to include other languages.