As part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Google announced updates to Lookout, Google Maps, Live Caption, Wear OS, and Chrome:
- Lookout is getting an “image question and answer” feature that will process images to provide descriptions of them, useful for when there’s no alt text included.
- Google Maps will now show a wheelchair icon when a place has a wheelchair-accessible entrance. This was previously only shown if you opted into the Accessible Places feature in Maps.
- Live Caption will add a tablet-optimized captions box; expand the Live Caption for calls feature to more devices like the Pixel 4, and Pixel 5, select Samsung Galaxy devices and others; and add support for French, Italian, and German on the aforementioned devices
- Wear OS 4 will include a new text-to-speech experience that is “faster and more reliable”
- Google Chrome on the desktop will detect URL typos and suggest websites based on those corrections. This will roll out to mobile in the coming months. Mobile also recently added new functionality for TalkBack users to make it easier to manage and organize tabs. TalkBack users will have access to a tab grid instead of the old tab list view, complete with features like tab groups, bulk tab actions, and reordering.
Live Caption is available to OEMs that preload the Android System Intelligence app provided by Google. Google currently offers two versions of ASI to OEMs: Private Infrastructure and Private Features. Both have the same package name but provide different capabilities.
Private Infrastructure includes Speech Recognition Service, text classifier, and keyboard suggestions. Private Features include all the above plus app suggestions, screen attention, and live captioning. Devices that preload Private Infrastructure declare com.google.android.feature.ASI_MINIMAL, while devices that preload Private Features declare com.google.android.feature.ASI.
Preloading Private Features is optional while preloading Private Infrastructure is required for all 4GB+ RAM devices running Android 13+. 373 device models declare com.google.android.feature.ASI, so quite a few Android devices should have access to the Live Caption feature.