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Accessibility Features in Android 2.0 Platform

  • Published: 2010-01-17 (Rev. 2016-03-21) - Contact: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Examines features and accessibility options in the Android 2.0 mobile phone platform.

Main Document

"The Android platform now comes with applications that provide spoken, auditory (non-speech sounds) and haptic (vibration) feedback."

Android 2.0 (Eclair) is a major improvement in Google's mobile OS. Android is actually a mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel. It was initially developed by Android Inc., a firm later purchased by Google, and lately by the Open Handset Alliance. It allows developers to write managed code in the Java language, controlling the device via Google-developed Java libraries.

Android 2.0 follows on from Android 1.6 "Donut", which introduced many new accessibility features designed to make Android apps more widely usable by blind and low-vision users. In brief, Android 1.6 includes a built-in screenreader and text-to-speech (TTS) engine which make it possible to use most Android applications, as well as all of Android's default UI, when not looking at the screen.

Android 2.0 Features:

  • Digital Zoom
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • Revamped UI
  • New contact lists
  • Improved virtual keyboard
  • Optimized hardware speed
  • Microsoft Exchange support
  • Improved Google Maps 3.1.2
  • Built in flash support for Camera
  • New browser UI and HTML5 support
  • Better white/black ratio for backgrounds
  • Support for more screen sizes and resolutions

Android 2.0 Accessibility Features:

A standardized Text To Speech API is part of the Android SDK.

An improved keyboard layout to makes it easier to hit the correct characters and improve typing speed.

Text-to-Speech (TTS) comes with voices for English (U.S. and U.K.), French, Italian, Spanish and German.

Project Eyes-Free (which includes accessibility tools such as TalkBack) provides several UI enhancements for using touch-screen input. Many of these innovations are available via Android Market and are already being heavily used.

Starting with Android 1.6, the Android platform includes a set of easy to use accessibility APIs that make it possible to create accessibility aids such as screen-readers for the blind.

The Android platform now comes with applications that provide spoken, auditory (non-speech sounds) and haptic (vibration) feedback. Named TalkBack, SoundBack and KickBack, these applications are available via the Settings - Accessibility menu.

Application authors can easily ensure that their applications remain usable by blind and visually impaired users by ensuring that all parts of the user interface are reachable via the trackball; and all image controls have associated textual meta-data.

Quick Contact for Android provides instant access to a contact's information and communication modes. For example, a user can tap a contact photo and select to call, SMS, or email the person. Other applications such as Email, Messaging, and Calendar can also reveal the Quick Contact widget when you touch a contact photo or status icon.

Android Version 2.0 is offers haptic feedback, (Haptic technology, or haptics, is a tactile feedback technology which takes advantage of a user's sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, and/or motions upon the user), built-in and a brand new Accessibility option, plus a new option for Text-to-speech. Besides that, Android 2.0 gives users more control over the settings and more opportunities to customize it based on their preferences.

With the exception of brief update periods, Android has been available as open source since 21 October 2008. Google opened the entire source code (including network and telephony stacks) under an Apache License.

The first phone featuring Android 2.0 is the Droid from Verizon and Motorola. It's not yet clear what other existing Android phones will be able to upgrade to Android 2.0, or when carriers will issue those software updates.

Over the next few months, we expect to see more and more Android devices being released. These devices will be running Android 1.5, 1.6, or 2.0.

Related:

  1. Claria Zoom: Android App for Partially Sighted & Seniors - Claria Zoom
  2. iSpeech App for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry - iSpeech, Inc.
  3. Android Apps for Teaching Autistic, Young, and Learning Disabled Kids - Blooming Kids Software, LLC









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