Most new devices feature some sort of voice control baked in, typically through digital assistants like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana. They're convenient, sure, but beyond the allure of digital assistants lies a necessity for voice input for some users, those with accessibility needs. Google is hoping to answer call for such users with a new Android service called Voice Access.
Voice Access provides Android users with a hands-free experience so that they can more easily navigate the OS. It allows them to open apps, compose and edit text, and communicate with the Google Assistant without having to physically tap the display or press any buttons.
"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 individuals 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," Google says.
Anyone can use Voice Access, though as Google points out, there are 62 million people in the US with motor and mobility impairments. This is where Voice Access is really meant to shine, and is the primary intent of the Google Accessibility team that's working on this service.
"After using this product for probably about 10 seconds, I think I’m falling in love with it,” said Stefanie Putnam, a quadriplegic and a para-equestrian driver who the Google Accessibility team collaborated with. "You use your voice and you’re able to access the world. It has become a huge staple in my life."
Voice Access begins with the familiar command, "Okay Google," after which a user can issue a verbal "open" command to open up an app, and take it from there. If you're interested in learning more about this, hit up Google's support page for details on how to use it and what types of voice commands are supported.