With the launch of Pie, Android’s new operating system (otherwise known as Android 9), a number of updates have been made to the platform’s accessibility features. Join us as we take a look at what is new since Oreo and refresh ourselves on Android’s existing accessibility features.
In June 2018, Google rebranded their TalkBack product to feature on the Play Store as the Android Accessibility Suite. The change combined the TalkBack screen reader with the previously separate features of Switch Access and Select to Speak. In doing so they created a one-stop app for their accessibility features, that allows Google to provide continuous updates to these features while introducing new functionality without the fear that some users may miss out on something that benefits them.
Currently, the Android Accessibility Suite contains:
- TalkBack – Android’s native screen reader, providing spoken feedback for users to use and navigate their device.
- Switch Access – lets people with motor impairments control their device using one or more switch inputs.
- Select to Speak – a text-to-speech functionality where users can tap specific items on their screen for them to be read aloud.
Pie itself was launched on August 6th 2018 and includes many new accessibility features not previously seen in Oreo:
- Remove Animations – a feature that removes the transition effects when navigating the Android operating system, as well as affecting some animations in other apps too.
- Accessibility Menu – switching this feature on displays an accessibility icon in the bottom navigation bar giving the user quick access to features that control gestures, hardware buttons, navigation and more.
- Vibration – this feature allows users to have individual control over whether the device vibrates for ‘Touch’ and ‘Ring & notification’. In the future, we are expecting this to be expanded with a greater level of variance for vibration length and strength.
Lastly, the ‘Click after pointer stops moving’ option has been renamed to the much more succinct ‘Dwell timing’ and has added an additional information panel about the function.
These additions complement some of the existing accessibility features of the Android operating system including:
- Volume key shortcut – allows a user to set an accessibility feature to be enabled and disabled when both volume buttons are pressed simultaneously.
- Display size – scales displayed items as smaller or larger.
- Magnification – allows full screen magnification by triple-tap or button input.
- Color correction – corrects colours for users with deuteranomaly, protanomaly and tritanomaly.
- Color inversion – inverts colours across the operating system.
- Large mouse pointer – increases the size of pointer if a mouse is being used.
- Power button ends call – ends call on power button interaction, prevents user from having to find icon on screen.
- Auto-rotate screen – forces device viewport to remain fixed to either landscape or portrait view.
- Touch & hold delay – allows the user to control the amount of time they are required to touch the screen to activate a feature.
- Mono audio – combines stereo channels to allow no information to be missed when playing audio.
- Captions – enabling this feature allows captions to be displayed, if available, while videos play.
- High contrast text – an experimental feature that increases text contrast against the background across the operating system.
If you’d like to speak to William about accessibility on Android or any other platform, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01323 433700. Please see our Accessibility Testing page to find out more about how we can help you build accessible applications.