Google aims to make Android phones more accessible

Google recently added several new accessibility features to Android, including enhanced voice command technology, accessibility options on the welcome screen of a phone at first activation, and a scanner that tells developers how they can improve the accessibility of their app.

“Nearly 20 percent of the US population will have a disability during their lifetime,” noted the blog post where the features were announced, adding, “That’s why it’s so important to build tools to make technology accessible to everyone.”

The first feature Google highlighted was Accessibility Scanner, a tool that gives developers suggestions on how to make their Android apps more accessible. Recommendations could include design elements such as enlarging buttons, or increasing contrast on text. It was made available on the Google Play store in March.

On the voice command front, Google announced the launch of Voice Access Beta, which allows users to control their Android devices entirely by voice. The test program filled up quickly and there is no word yet on when the feature will be fully available to the public.

Google Docs voice command options have been expanded as well. Now users can type, edit and format just by speaking commands.

The last feature to note is simple but crucial: Google has designed upcoming software update Android N to put vision accessibility settings on the welcome page, the first page you see when activating a new phone. Now people with visual impairments can activate their own phones without any extra help.

Related reading: Google Play family of apps updated with ‘new consistent look’