The original version of Android did not include accessibility fixes. But Google has slowly added more accessibility features to its platform over the past decade. In 2018, Google released Voice Access, a way to control your smartphone using just your voice. While it was great back then, it got even better with Android 11. Fortunately, thanks to these improvements, we can now set up an Android smartphone with Voice Access. To get started, on the initial setup screen, select the Support options menu and tap Set with your voice. For this tutorial we will use a Google Pixel 6abut the process should be similar to any Android device with Google Mobile Services.
The next screen explains voice access, an Android accessibility service that allows you to control your device using voice. You can speak to type, scroll and even tap buttons. There is a button in the bottom right corner, press it to enable voice access. Before Voice Access is enabled, there is a screen explaining how it works.
While the screen is on, a blue microphone icon will appear on the screen, which means the phone is listening for your commands. While Google recommends that Voice Access listen for commands while the screen is on, you can disable it. When disabled, the feature will only listen for commands for the first 30 seconds, then the microphone will be disabled.
Once you have reached the Voice Access screen, you can start using commands. From here, say “tap next” to continue. In the future, you can give the phone various commands. You can try different commands by heart, or if you want more guidance, check out the detailed command list below.
Basic and voice commands for navigation
- Open [app]
- Go back
- Go home
- Show notifications
- Show quick settings
- Show recent apps
Voice access help
- What can I say?
- Show all commands
- Open tutorial
- Show numbers
- Hide numbers
- Show labels
- Hide labels
- What’s [number]?
- Stop speech access
- Send feedback
- Turn on Bluetooth
- Turn off Bluetooth
- Turn up the volume
- Turn down the volume
- Play [media/alarm/phone] volume up
- Play [media/alarm/phone] reduce volume
- Stupid [media/alarm/phone] volume
- Unmute [media/alarm/phone] volume
- Switch off device
You can speak commands to the Google Assistant, such as:
- Hey Google, set the timer for [amount of time]
- Hey Google, turn on flashlight
- Hey Google, when was the Empire State Building built?
- Hey Google, who made Google?
Voice Access Numbers
To display an overlay of numbers next to all items on your screen, you can say “Show numbers.” If you’re not sure about anything, you can also say “Show labels” to get suggestions about what’s on the screen.
Search in apps
You can quickly search an app as long as it has a search field by saying “Search for” [shoes]”.
Answer phone calls
When you receive a call from someone, you can answer the call by saying “Answer call”.
- Tap [OK]
- Long press
- Turn of
- To expand [notification]
- To collapse [notification]
- Role [up, down, left, right]
- Role [up, down, left, right] On
- Scroll up
- Scroll down
- Swipe Forward
- Swipe backwards
Instead of selecting specific objects, there is also the option to navigate using a grid.
- Say “Show grid” to start the grid selection.
- Say “More squares” or “Fewer squares” to make the grid larger or smaller.
- Say a number or use commands to interact with the grid. For example:
- “Tap 7”
- “Swipe right” or “Swipe left”
- “scroll up” or “scroll down”
- “Swipe up 5”
- “Swipe left on 12”
- “Pinch In”
- Say “Hide Grid” to hide the grid.
You can take advantage of these commands to zoom in or magnify the screen on your Android device.
- Start Magnification
- Start zooming
Zoom in or out
- Zoom in
- To expand
- Zoom out
Pan up, down, left or right
- Role [up, down, left, right]
- Pan [up, down, left, right]
- Movement [up, down, left, right]
- To go [up, down, left, right]
- Stop Magnification
- Stop zooming
- Cancel zoom
Voice access isn’t just for actions, you can also type, edit and format text with your voice. When used, the feature shows a blue border around the text that can be edited. If no blue border is available, you can move to a new text field by saying the number.
- To replace [word or phrase] with your own commands.
- Starred assignments
work for characters, words, sentences, lines, paragraphs or pages.
- Type Text [word or phrase]
- [word or phrase]
- Redo [word or phrase] Insert [word or phrase]
- before [word or phrase] Insert [word or phrase]
- after [word or phrase] Insert [word or phrase] among [word or phrase]
- Format email[email protected]Note: This command formats nearby text as an email address if possible. For example, to format the text “info at company dot com” as an email address (
- ) say ‘format email’.
- Replace text [word or phrase] To replace [word or phrase]
- of [word or phrase] Replace everything in between [word or phrase] and [word or phrase]
- of [word or phrase]
- Capital letters [word or phrase]
- capital letters [word or phrase]
- Delete text
- clear all [word or phrase]
- Delete to top
- Delete until the end
- Delete selected text [word or phrase] Remove from [word or phrase]
- until  remove
- words*  Delete the next
- Move the cursor
- Go to the beginning
- Go to the end [word or phrase]
- move after [word or phrase]
- move ahead [word or phrase] Move between [word or phrase]
- and  Right
- characters*  Left
- Select text
- Select all text
- Deselect all text
- Select to top
- Select to the end [word or phrase]
- Select [word or phrase] Select from [word or phrase]
- until  Select
- sentences*  Select the next
Cut, copy and paste
- Show or hide the keyboard
- Show keyboard
Stop speech access
- To stop Speech Access, you can do one of the following:
- Tap anywhere on the screen.
- Say, “Stop listening.”
- Turn off the screen. To save battery, Voice Access stops automatically when the screen is turned off. Open your notification panel, then tapTouch to pause
- If you set a Bluetooth switch, you can press the switch to stop Voice Access.
If you’ve turned on No Speech Timeout in your Voice Access settings, you can wait 30 seconds.
To disable Voice Access completely, go to the Settings menu, Accessibility and navigate to Voice Access.
As you can see, there are plenty of commands that can get you through just about anything, and there are also many different options when it comes to navigation. If there are too many options available, since Voice Access can understand the context of the screen, you will be presented with placemarks to aid navigation. An example of this can be seen in the image on the right. From this point you can go through the menus and once you reach the end you will have set up your Android device with voice access.