A new app from Google means users of Android phones can now control their phones using only their voice.
The idea isn’t itself new, as smart assistants built into smartphones including Apple’s iPhone and even Google’s own devices have let you do this for some time, to varying levels of success.
The Voice Access app however intends to take this a step further and give complete hands-free access to those with motor and mobility impairments.
Stefanie Putnam is quadriplegic and a para-equestrian driver and works for Google’s Accessibility Team. She was one of several people in her team who worked to test early prototypes of a feature which allowed people to control their Android device using voice-only commands. Google say that feedback—and that of other testers—was instructional in shaping a new product we’ve just released called Voice Access.
“After using this product for probably about 10 seconds, I think I’m falling in love with it,” said Stefanie. “You use your voice and you’re able to access the world. It has become a huge staple in my life.”
The app apparently provides a hands-free experience for Android, letting people navigate through apps, compose and edit text, and talk to the Google Assistant. It provides more fine-grained controls than other voice commands you might use on your phone—for example, letting you use your voice to “click” buttons and controls within apps, or scroll and navigate app screens.
And while there are great benefits for people with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, spinal cord injury and more, Voice Access can also provide value to people who don’t have a disability—people juggling with groceries or in the middle of cooking.
I am an absolute geek who loves technology. I also happen to be severely sight impaired and that has meant my journey with new technology has been challenging. What I've learnt is what I want to share with others and I do that on air in the UK on RNIB Connect Radio's weekly Tech Talk radio show and podcast, and on AMI-Audio's Double Tap Canada radio show and podcast. I'm also a very lucky husband and the owner of the world's coolest dog!