Google's IO conference, the place where developers go to learn about what's coming up next in Android, has spilled the beans on some forthcoming TalkBack improvements in Android O.
The Wednesday session highlighted several improvements coming in the next version of Android, which will likely be released this fall.
First, a separate Accessibility Volume slider will be available which will allow users to adjust the volume of TalkBack separately from other sounds on the device. Currently, the TalkBack volume follows the media volume, making it sometimes difficult to manage speech when loud videos or music are playing. Accessibility Volume will join other sliders such as media, ringtones, notifications, and alarms.
A global shortcut which is currently used by TalkBack will now be available system-wide, even when TalkBack is not enabled. Users can hold down the Volume Up and Volume Down features to turn on TalkBack from anywhere on the device. In contrast with many previous versions, the feature will be on by default, making it theoretically possible to walk up to an Android O device in a store and try out accessibility features, just as one might do with a Windows or Mac computer currently.
Swipe gestures will now be supported using the fingerprint censor, allowing for directional swipes to control TalkBack. These will likely be assignable like other gestures.
Google's text-to-speech engine will now autospeak in multiple languages when they are present on the screen. For instance, Google's Victor Tsaran demonstrated an Email written inm four languages, and Google switched between them to read the message.
Android O also features a redesigned accessibility settings screen, allowing for a more cohesive and straight-forward presentation of available options and services.
Most of these features will likely be exclusive to Android O, which is available today as a beta and wil be released later this year. We'll post more information as we receive it.
What do you think of these new accessibility changes? Be sure to sound off below.
I want a way to switch languages on-the-fly when I need to. For every message or page that is coded properly, there are many more which are not. I also want separate voice rate for languages like iOS has. And, most importantly of all for me, have they fixed anything with their Braille support, even a little?
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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.