Android’s latest accessibility features let you control your phone and chat with facial gestures

Android’s latest accessibility features let you control your phone and chat with facial gestures

Google is adding new accessibility features to Android, called Camera Switches and Project Activate, to help users with disabilities control their phones with facial gestures. We first spotted the Camera Switches feature in a beta build of the Android Accessibility Suite app that rolled out with the first Android 12 beta release. And it’s now finally rolling out to users.

Camera Switches

The Camera Switches feature in Switch Access turns your phone’s camera into a new type of switch that detects facial expressions. It offers support for six gestures — look right, look left, look up, smile, raise eyebrows, and open your mouth — using which you can navigate across your phone’s UI. You can also assign these gestures to open notifications, return to the home screen, or pause gesture detection.

To use the Camera Switches feature, head over to the Android Accessibility settings on your phone or download the app from the Play Store. Tap on the Switch Access option in the Interaction Controls section and tap on the Use Switch Access toggle on the following page.

Tap on the Allow button to grant the required permissions and then select the new Camera Switch option in the Switch Access setup guide. Once again, give the required camera permissions and pick one of the three available scanning options. The following steps will help you set up actions using six of the available gestures, and then you’re good to go.

Project Activate

Camera Switches isn’t the only facial gesture-based accessibility feature that Google has introduced in Android. The company has also launched a new app called Project Activate, which also utilizes facial gestures to help users activate customized actions.

Project Activate

Using this new app, you can create preset actions and then trigger them using the six facial gestures mentioned above. The app lets you play a text-to-speech phrase, play audio to express yourself or control a smart speaker, send a text message, or make a phone call using the gestures. You can download the app from the Play Store link below and give it a whirl. The app is currently available in the UK, US, Canada, and Australia.

Project Activate
Project Activate
Developer: Research at Google
Price: Free

About author

Pranob Mehrotra
Pranob Mehrotra

A Literature and Linguistics graduate with a keen interest in everything Android. When not writing about tech, Pranob spends most of his time either playing League of Legends or lurking on Reddit.