Google has recently put on an extra gear in their accessibility department, with ChromeVox and Docs. Now Android gets touch based screen reader support.
Ice Cream Sandwich
Today Google held their Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich event. First they showed a new easier to read and good looking font ”Roboto”. This is part in their redesign of Android for the phones and making it look more like tablets.
The user interface takes the best of all worlds. With inspiration from iOS, WebOS, and Windows Phone, they have redesigned Android and also try to redefine Android so that you not only like it or know it... they want you to love it.
Alongside a lot of new features to the Android OS, they introduced a new phone called ”Galaxy Nexus” as a partnership with Samsung.
The phone has a 4.65” inch display and no home or navigation buttons. Only volume and lock buttons are physical buttons. (which you now finaly can use to take screen shots)
Samsung is known for doing good displays and that is shown very well on the Galaxy Nexus. With Super AmOLED technique and a contrast ratio of 100.000 to 1 will make colors pop and keep black really black.
During the announcement there was absolutely no mention about accessibility. But after when the developer website was updated it has a whole section dedicated to accessibility. (They even use #A11y as an ID anchor).
Android 4.0 comes with touch based screen reader support called ”Explore-by-touch Mode” which will let visually impaired users to feel and drag around the screen and get descriptions read out loud.
This doesn’t necessarily mean it will be like iOS VoiceOver but at least give developers like Code Factory and Nuance the ability to make full featured screen readers. Google also announced a lot of new APIs for developers to make Text-to-Speak engines and make their apps more accessible and to support this new way of using Android devices.
Ice Cream Sandwich also comes with inline spell-checker which will help a lot of dyslectic and motor disabled people.
We will obviously continue to cover the development of accessibility on the Android platform.