Recently, Google's Eyes-free team released version 5.1 of the TalkBack screen reader for Android devices. This version is the first to only run on Android 5.1 and newer, which encompasses most current devices. Those running Android 4.4 or earlier received a bug fix release, version 5.0.7, which is said to be the last for these devices.
TalkBack 5.1 includes a list of minor improvements including announcing of page load percentages in Chrome, an assignable shortcut for the Quick Settings Panel, and improvements for scrolling in large lists. We've included the message from the Eyes-free mailing list below.
After a few weeks of public beta, we are happy to announce an official release of TalkBack 5.1 and TalkBack 5.0.7.
Thanks to all of you who provided feeback, suggestions and, most importantly, found bugs.
Most of the features remain the same from the initial announcement, nevertheless, the summary is below.
Bug fixes since public beta
The status bar icons on some Huawei devices can be read again with Talkback.
The loss of focus when typing on virtual keyboards has been fixed.
Volume adjustments during the phone call are now only applied to Lollipop and Marshmallow devices.
The battery charging status is announced again when plugging and unplugging the device.
On Jelly Bean and Kitkat devices the keyboard shortcuts that are not used by TalkBack will be passed onto the operating system.
TalkBack 5.1 is released only to devices running Lollipop (Android 5.1) and above. TalkBack 5.0.7 is released only to devices running Jelly Bean and Kitkat. This will be the last version of TalkBack released for those devices. We do not plan any further updates of TalkBack for Jelly Bean and Kitkat devices.
TalkBack 5.0.7 contains no new features, only serious bug fixes.
For TalkBack 5.1, see the release notes below.
Here is the list of new features and bug fixes in TalkBack 5.1.
TalkBack will now announce in percentages how much of the web page has loaded. This works in Chrome 52 and above.
When selecting text from the keyboard, the selected text will now be announced. Double-tapping on the edit field will place the cursor at the end of the field, and not in the middle.
TalkBack will now prevent the device from locking when reading long fragments of text. TalkBack will now adjust the speech volume during the phone call so that the level of two volumes is approximately the same. The adjustments are only applied on Lollipop and Marsh mallow devices. The read from top and read from next item functionality has been improved. TalkBack and Google voice search should no longer speak at the same time while dictating. Security overlays should now work with TalkBack, i.e. the user can click the allow button when the screen is dimmed. Auto-scrolling in large lists has been improved. You should see improvements in 3rd-party apps such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. The navigation setting (granularity) will temporarily be set to default when opening dialogs, menus or new windows.
Gestures and Keyboard Shortcuts
For new users the default keymap will now be set as a default one. For existing users, the current setting will be respected.
Opening Quick Settings panel can now be assigned to a gesture.
CTRL+ALT+SPACE in the default keymap will open the list of custom actions. In the Classic keymap the shortcut key is assignable.
TalkBack will execute only the keyboard shortcuts specified in the keymap. All other keyboard shortcuts will be passed directly to the application or operating system.
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.