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Android O brings new accessibility options

iOS is known for offering options advanced accessibility. Android O trying to catch up, and here’s how !

According to a estimate publicized by Google, nearly one person in five is affected by a disability during his life. Google caters to all persons with disabilities to facilitate their access to new technologies.

In the same way that websites, smartphones should be accessible to all. Thus, it is necessary to pay attention to the colors used, to the location information or the description of the elements. Google is trying to sensitize a maximum of the developers, with the application Accessibility Scanner , for example, because the topic is too often neglected. In fact, the adaptation requires additional work and this cost is usually the first fuse when a project starts to fall behind.

The Google side, it is also important that the operating system in its entirety, be as accessible as possible. For this, there are four applications : Talkback (reads what is on the screen) and BrailleBack (transformed into braille the contents of the screen), Switch Access (control the phone through an external device) and Voice Access (voice control of the phone). On Android Y, the improvements are waiting for you on some of these components.

Volume of accessibility to differentiated

The interactions of vocal accessibility services today use the standard audio output of the Android. Therefore, if you want to lower the music, turn it down at the same time its accessibility. On Android O, accessibility services have their own channel, which will help avoid this type of situation.

New gestures with the fingerprint sensor

The fingerprint sensor on many mobile phones today is used to open or close the status bar. On Android O, the developers can use this sensor as a directional arrow. Combined with TalkBack, the user may be positioned on an element by dragging its finger in the desired direction.

Multilingual Support of Text-To-Speech

Android Nougat (7.0) allows you to manage multiple languages simultaneously. Unfortunately accessibility has been left out and it will have to wait for Android O for an implementation in more detail. Now, when a block contains text in multiple languages is selected, the developers can specify the language for each of the extracts. As soon Talkback will be able to change the language in an intuitive way. Nothing is automatic and it is again the developers to make efforts in this direction.

Shortcut to accessibility

Now by pressing and holding for three seconds the two buttons of the volume, the service accessibility will be stopped or restarted.

Support of actions ongoing

Perform swipes, drag-and-drop… we seem to be well easy. To the extent this action is not feasible on Android today. In fact, users of Switch Access may be able to perform this type of gesture, but it was impossible, therefore, that the OS does not handle it. However, the situation will improve significantly with Android O, since the movements will be supported natively.

Select to Speak

The people having difficulties to read the text (dyslexia, poor vision…) will be able to rely on an all-new feature. It will enable to read aloud the information that is displayed on the whole or only a part of the screen. According to the principle of an audio player, it will pause, accelerate or reduce the speed of speech. All these controls are accessible via a floating button.

Shortcut in the navigation bar

A new button appears in the navigation bar, next to the classic buttons Back / Home / Task recent, from when a service’s accessibility-compliant is enabled. This is particularly the case of Select to Speak, which starts or stops the respective process. In the case where several services are eligible, Android asks the user which one he wants to use, according to the same principle as the sharing feature.

As you can see, accessibility is a fundamental work and that is too often neglected by the developers. Please do not hesitate to encourage them, because this is really not a waste of time, but a real opportunity to target a wider audience.

Check out all the announcements from the Google I/O 2017

  • Android Pay : imminent arrival in Canada, still nothing in France
  • Android O brings new accessibility options
  • Android Studio 3.0 : what is new ?
  • Google wants to solve the problem of fragmentation easily add emoji on Android
  • Google Expeditions : we tried the augmented reality app dedicated to the education
  • Google I/O 2017 : what we need to remember

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