Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and Google is sharing new features and apps for Android that should make the mobile OS more accessible. New Action Blocks make complicated tasks as simple as one tap, and Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier should make having conversations easier for those who need help.
Action Blocks is a new app for Android that gives you one-touch widgets for your home screen. The big buttons perform complex actions like playing a video, making a call, or sending a text. It can replicate anything Google Assistant can do.
Action Blocks could be a boon for anyone with cognitive or mobile disabilities. The fewer steps there are to remember or perform, the better.
Live Transcribe can help with conversations, especially for those with hearing loss. The app has been out since last year, but it’s getting a few new features. You can now set the app to vibrate your phone when it hears your name, allowing you to maintain social distance.
A new search bar lets you quickly look through previous conversations for a particular topic. And Live Transcribe new languages, including Albanian, Burmese, Estonian, Macedonian, Mongolian, Punjabi, and Uzbek. That brings the total list to 70 languages.
Like Live Transcribe, the Sound Amplifier app launched last year to make understanding conversations easier. You placed the phone near the source of the sound you wanted to hear (say a lecturer) and plugged in wired headphones. The phone would record and amplify the speaker’s voice while cutting out background noise.
But getting your phone near a speaker while using wired headphones isn’t always convenient. Today’s update allows you to use Bluetooth headphones with Sound Amplifier. And if you’re on a Pixel device, you can boost the media audio playing on your phone, including YouTube videos, music, and podcasts.
Anyone who has had trouble listening to conversations because of background noise will appreciate apps like Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier.