Android’s beta accessibility feature guides your phone with looks


Google is developing a new accessibility feature for Android that lets you control your phone using expressions like smiles or eyebrows. XDA developers reports. The “Camera Switch” feature has arrived with Android Accessibility Suite version 12, released alongside The fourth beta of Android 12. A new version of the app is not yet available on Google Play, XDA reports, but an on-page downloadable APK is available if you want to try it.

By XDA developers, expressions (including left, right, or up view) can be used for a variety of controls, ranging from scrolling, going home, or viewing quick settings or notifications. Screenshots show that you can adjust how sensitive the software is when recognizing expressions, which should hopefully limit the possibility of accidental activation. However, there is also a caveat that the feature can consume a lot of power and that you should connect your phones to AC power when it is in use.

Facial expressions include “open mouth”, “smile” and “raise eyebrows”.
Picture: XDA developers

The property settings page warns that it can consume a lot of power.
Picture: XDA developers

It’s not hard to see how the feature could be useful to anyone who might struggle with certain touch controls. And unlike voice commands, the look on your face is quiet, which can make it easier to use the controls in public or quieter environments.

Android has got a number of accessibility features with the latest releases, and features like these face detectors are designed to make it easier for people with disabilities to use their phones. Last year’s Android 11for example, improved the voice control feature of the operating system. Earlier in the year, Google released a collection of other accessibility updates including customizable function blocks that allow users to assign custom functions to large on-screen buttons.

The arrival of the new feature alongside the latest Android 12 beta suggests it will be officially released as part of an operating system update later this year. But XDA developers points out that the latest version of the Accessibility Suite seems to be backwards compatible with Android 11, suggesting that it may not be exclusively for Android 12.

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