Google Assistant-Powered Action Blocks Accessibility App Launched for Android Phones

BY Asif Shaik

Published 22 May 2020

Google Action Blocks App Accessibility

On the occasion of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Google has launched the Action Blocks app. It was first unveiled last year as a part of its DIVA accessibility initiative. The company has also updated Google Maps, Live Transcribe, and Sound Amplifier for improved accessibility.

Google’s Action Blocks app is powered by Google Assistant, and it allows users to create pre-written Google Assistant commands and place them as shortcuts on the Android phone’s home screen. A series of commands can be placed as a single shortcut, making things easier for the elderly or people with cognitive disabilities.

What is Action Blocks?

The Action Blocks app can be used to give a name to each command, create voice commands for them, and assign it an image (or a large button) to make it easily recognizable. People with cognitive disabilities have difficulty in going through multi-stage processes that are required to do some basic tasks on their smartphones such as calling friends, sharing their location with family members, or even playing music. Action Blocks could be pretty helpful in such situations.

People suffering from advanced dementia, autism, and Down syndrome can use Action Blocks on their Android smartphones. It can also be helpful for kids and even normal users to perform everyday tasks like playing bedtime stories or for controlling products like smart lights. The Action Blocks app is available on the Play Store and it is compatible with all smartphones running Android 5.0 and above.

Google has also updated three other accessibility features—Google Maps, Live Transcribe, and Sound Amplifier—to help users.

Accessible Places in Google Maps

Google Maps will now clearly display if a place has wheelchair access. The feature, which is called Accessible Places, has been released across Android and iOS versions of Google Maps. People who need to feature can simply activate it from the app’s settings.

Live Transcribe lets you search locally saved transcriptions with keywords

The Live Transcribe feature automatically converts speech into text in more than one language at once. The updated version of the feature lets you type in hard-to-transcribe names or technical terms so that Live Transcribe becomes more useful. Google is now also allowing users to search locally saved live transcriptions by using specific keywords. Users can also set their names as a keyword so that the phone vibrates whenever it hears the name.

Sound Amplifier now supports Bluetooth earphones

The Sound Amplifier feature lets people use their Android phones to amplify and clarify audio while cutting out the background or unwanted noise. Until now, it only worked on wired earphones, but Google has now updated it to work with Bluetooth audio products like wireless earphones or speakers.

[Source: Google Play]