Thursday, February 25, 2010

Eyes-Free: TalkBack And Shell Improvements

Here is a brief summary of updates to Android's eyes-free tools--- including TalkBack, and the Eyes-Free Shell from the last two weeks.


  • Speech during a phone call is now re-enabled.
  • Turning the screen on/off is spoken. This announcement includes the ringer mode/volume.
  • Changes in the the ringer mode - silent, vibrate, and normal are now announced.
  • Unlocking the phone is announced.
  • Other Android applications can programmatically discover if TalkBack is enabled.

Eyes-Free Shell

Now that applications can programmatically discover whetherTalkBack has been enabled, configuring Eyes-Free shell to become your default home screen has become a lot easier. In a nutshell,if you are a TalkBack user and install Eyes-Free shell, hitting the Home button will bring up the eyes-free shell, ---no configuration needed. Note that you can always get to the default Android home screen by long-pressing the Back button.

Share And Enjoy


  1. I'm dying to be able to enable/disable TalkBack programmatically. Is this something that will be possible at some time in the future?

  2. Unfortunately, this kind of claim for features needs to be made after testing on more than a couple of devices. I have the HTC Desire, and contrary to the post, pressing the home key with Eyes-Free Shell installed stubbornly persists in returning to the HTC Sense home screen. I tried installing the configuration manager, but it wouldn't even download... This post implies that I shouldn't even need it.

    As for seemingly glib statements like "type a search query", I so far find Talkback to be unusable to enter text. There is no feedback to indicate what letter you are touching until after you lift your finger. That's much too late as you are now committed to having to delete it if it's wrong, which most of the time it will be.

    As a fundamental design choice, using something as passive as lifting a finger off the screen as an instruction to action the last item spoken seems bizarre at best. How, for example, are you supposed to examine the screen content if you don't want to action anything at all?

    Is there perchance a clear step-by-step guide on how one is to use TalkBack in common scenarios? E.g. phone dialling, text messages, calender (which doesn't seem to work very well at all on my HTC Desire and TalkBack) and so on. I've found trying to locate clear, simple end-user instructions a nightmare.

  3. what you say, it's a problem to find usable documentations and allso what kind of phones will work with talkback!

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