New Android features unveiled for people with cognitive and hearing disabilities

Google today announced new Android features designed to improve accessibility for people with hearing and cognitive disabilities. The new capabilities are launched coincidentally during the Global Accessibility Awareness Day celebration.

For people with cognitive differences, the search giant is rolling out Action Blocks as an Android app. First announced in October of last year, this feature lets users create and add shortcuts to the home screen of their Android phones in order to perform any action, courtesy of Google Assistant. With Action Blocks, users can control their smart lights, call a friend, or play videos with just a single tap. The app is available to download via the Play Store and it supports Android phones running Android 5.0 or above.

Google is also adding new capabilities to Live Transcribe for people with hearing loss. First introduced in February 2019, the updated Live Transcribe app now lets users vibrate their phone when someone nearby mentions their name and create custom terms for places and objects not found in the dictionary. Users can also search through past transcriptions by switching on “Saving Transcriptions” in the Settings menu. These transcriptions will be stored in their device for three days. Support for seven new languages has been added as well, including Albanian, Burmese, Estonian, Macedonian, Mongolian, Punjabi, and Uzbek.

Finally, the company is rolling out updates for Sound Amplifier, a feature that debuted early last year along with Live Transcribe to help clarify sound around an individual with hearing disabilities. Its updated app now supports Bluetooth headphones and also boosts the audio from any media playing on a Pixel phone. It’s up for download on the Play Store, with support for devices running Android 6.0 or higher.