Blind Bargains

#CSUNATC17: Google Demonstrates Features of TalkBack 5.2 for Android; Teases Contracted Braille Input for BrailleBack

Google had a full slate of sessions at this year's CSUN conference and showed off some of the features for the next version of the TalkBack screen reader for Android devices. Google's Victor Tsaran highlighted several changes for version 5.2, which is set to enter public beta in a couple weeks.

Perhaps the biggest crowd reaction came from the demonstration of new earcons, the sounds that are played when swiping, tapping, or otherwise interacting with the screen. TalkBack 5.2 replaces the much maligned musical theme with a new set of sounds which features much more succinct blips and pops, for lack of a better description. The sounds did not linger like their older counterparts and gelled nicely with the rest of the audio.

Tinkerers will love the new verbosity settings, which let you turn on and off messages such as "in list", or "3 of 15". Three levels will be available including High which will speak everything, Low which will be much less verbose, and Custom which will let you toggle individual items on and off.

In a related move, users will be able to determine the speaking order for element information such as role, state, and name. For example, if you had a checkbox with the title of "Keep me logged in", the role would be checkbox, the state is checked or not checked, and the name is "Keep me logged in." So you could have TalkBack say "Keep me logged in checkbox checked", "Checked Keep me logged in Checkbox", or any other combination of the above. It's the type of feature that advanced users may love to play with.

A brief but important BrailleBack mention was given which hinted at support for contracted braille input and word wrap along with compatibility with the VarioUltra and other newer displays. No release date was given for this update, however.

Category: News
Displaying 2 comments.
DebeeArmstrong Tuesday, 07-Mar-2017 12:21 PM ET:

I was a bit disappointed -- (I attended this google session on Talkback) -- they didn't add or alter any gestures. I still think talkback needs a rotor gesture; adjusting granularity is still too tedious. I noticed that VoiceView has added some features to granularity which will make book reading easier. Would be interesting to compare the Kindle app on Android once the new TalkBack is out with the new Kindle app and the new soon-to-be-released VoiceView.

J.J. Tuesday, 07-Mar-2017 3:33 PM ET:

I get that some people want that gesture, but you can adjust granularity now by swiping up or down. If you don't have this feature, make sure you are using the latest default gestures.

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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.

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