Apple has always been a market leader when it comes to mobile accessibility features for people with disabilities. And of course as anyone who follows all of our coverage of cool hidden iPhone features knows, accessibility options also provide useful functionality to people without disabilities. While Apple is still the leader in this space, Google has made tremendous strides in recent years by adding new accessibility features with each Android release.
Unfortunately, Google’s best new accessibility app in a long time is currently a closed beta, and it’s no longer available to the general public — unless you’re reading this post, in which case we’ll show you how to get it right now.
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In a recent post on its official blog, Google described a number of new accessibility features that have recently been added to Android or that are currently being tested for inclusion in a future version of Google’s mobile platform. Among them, Voice Access is by far the coolest new feature.
With Voice Access, people can control a wide range of functionality on their smartphones or tablets simply by speaking voice commands. The feature set goes well beyond functionality currently afforded by solutions like Siri or Google Now voice commands, supporting commands like “scroll down” or “go back,” and much more. On-screen tap targets are also assigned numbers by the app, so you can virtually tap anything you can see on the screen just by speaking.
The new features were designed for users with disabilities that prevent them from using a touchscreen easily or effectively, but they’re also useful for anyone else. The problem is that unfortunately, the Voice Access beta is currently full so you can no longer download the app through Google’s official beta portal.
It’s a good thing you found this post.
By following the instructions below, you can install the official Voice Access beta on your Android phone or tablet and begin using it immediately, even though the beta is closed.
- Visit this link on your Android device, then scroll down and tap the download button
- Once the download is complete, open the APK file
- Your phone will ask you if you want to install it — tap Yes (note that you may need to enable app installations from unknown sources)
Once the app is installed, it will guide you to the Accessibility section in the Android Settings app, where you’ll find a new “Voice Access” option at the bottom. Toggle it to “on” and enable “OK Google” voice detection if it’s not already enabled, and you’ll be able to use all the newly available voice commands.