Tech

Android Now has Accessibility Tools for Face Gestures and Handwriting Recognition

Some intriguing new accessibility capabilities are among Google’s slew of new features coming to Android this fall. Lookout, a Google app that uses a phone’s camera to help individuals with limited vision or blindness, now has additional facial gesture controls and a new handwriting recognition capability for users with motor disabilities. Google Assistant, Digital Wellbeing, Nearby Share, and Google’s Android keyboard will all see upgrades.

Android’s facial gesture controls are divided into two sections. Camera Switches (which was previously seen in the Android 12 beta) fits within Android’s existing Accessibility Suite and allows you to activate various commands using movements like opening your mouth or raising your eyebrows. The second component is Project Activate, a stand-alone app that aims to improve communication between people. Facial motions can be programmed to perform tasks such as playing audio or sending a text message.

Meanwhile, Lookout’s handwriting recognition will be able to read Latin-based languages and will be accessible through the Documents mode, according to Google. The app’s Currency mode will now include Euros and Indian Rupees.

Gboard is also improving in terms of accessibility. The most intriguing feature is that Google’s Android keyboard will be able to use Smart Compose to finish sentences on all devices running Android 11 and higher, similar to what’s now possible in Google Docs and Gmail. Previously, this feature was only available on Pixel phones. When different contact information and data like phone numbers and email addresses are copied in a single block of text, copying and pasting is being changed to automatically separate them out. Finally, if you quickly switch to a messaging app after taking a screenshot, Gboard will propose sharing it.

The “Heads Up” Digital Wellbeing feature, which warns people not to look down at their phones while walking, is now available on all Android phones, and asking Google Assistant to “open my reminders” now provides a one-stop shop for managing all reminders added to the voice assistant. Nearby Share is also getting a makeover, with new visibility options that enable you select who can see your device and transfer files. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of features that should appeal to everyone.

Google hasn’t specified a specific release date for any of these improvements, nor has it stated whether any of them would be exclusive to Android 12. As a result, expect the majority of them to roll out throughout the course of this fall, which is expected to last until the beginning of December.

The OnePlus Watch is the company’s first smartwatch. It’s only $159 and lasts up to two weeks between charges, but it doesn’t do nearly as much as competing smartwatches from Samsung, Fossil, Apple, and others.

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