Google's new useful Action Blocks app highlights new accessibility emphasis

Pixel 3 accessibility
Pixel 3 accessibility (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has improved Android's accessibility apps in respect of Global Accessibility Awareness Day.
  • The pre-existing Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier apps get useful and meaningful updates.
  • The company has also rolled out a new Action Blocks app for reducing day-to-day cognitive load on impaired users.

Google is improving support for Android users with extended accessibility needs this week to acknowledge Global Accessibility Awareness Day. To that end, it's launching one app, and updating two others.

The first of those is Action Blocks. Action Blocks is a new app made to simplify common actions for people with cognitive disabilities. These actions could include calling family, checking the weather, reading the news, anything that's done day to day. "Create an Action Block for any action that the Google Assistant can perform, like making calls, sending texts, playing videos, and controlling devices in your home. Then pick an image for the Action Block from your camera or photo gallery, and place it on your home screen for one-touch access," Google's accessibility team explained. It's available from the Play Store here.

Pixel 4 Bluetooth Pairing Screen

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

While these other apps aren't new like Action Blocks, Google has also issued updates to Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier to improve their overall usefulness. Live Transcribe gets the bulk of updates. You can now set your phone to vibrate when someone nearby says your name, alerting you if someone's trying to get your attention. There's also the new ability to add custom names or terms for different places and objects not in the dictionary so that Live Transcribe can better recognize and spell words that are important to you. You'll also be able to search past transcriptions with the search app. Users can save transcriptions locally for three days by turning on "Saving Transcriptions" in Settings. Finally, the app now supports the following languages: Albanian, Burmese, Estonian, Macedonian, Mongolian, Punjabi, and Uzbek.

In the case of Sound Amplifier, it now lets users boost the in-app audio playing from their devices on Pixels. For all devices, it'll now work with Bluetooth headphones.

Both of these apps are available on the Play Store. Sound Amplifier requires Android 6.0 and above, while Live Transcribe can work with Android 5.0.

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