Google has partnered with Samsung to create a new version of TalkBack, an accessibility service that provides spoken feedback of what’s shown or happening on screen. TalkBack was released in the early days of Android, but in 2018, Google rolled it into the Android Accessibility Suite app alongside other services aimed at helping users with disabilities use their smartphone.
At Galaxy Unpacked, Google’s Hiroshi Lockheimer announced the new version of TalkBack, stating that it’ll be “available first on Galaxy.” The Galaxy S21 series was the star of the show at the event, so it’s likely that Samsung’s latest flagships will be the first to take advantage of Google’s revamped screen reader service.
“As part of our commitment to make computing as accessible to everyone, we’ve collaborated with Samsung to develop a new version of TalkBack, a Google screen reader, available first on Galaxy. This can really help shape the future of how everyone interacts with their phones.” Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP of Platforms & Ecosystems at Google.
Google followed up this announcement with a brief mention of the revamped TalkBack in a blog post. The company says that “TalkBack has been revamped so that people with blindness or trouble seeing their displays can use spoken feedback and gestures to navigate their phone without having to look at the screen.” We reached out to Google for clarity on what features have been added to this revamped version of TalkBack, and we received the following statement:
“TalkBack is a Google screen reader included on Android devices. Using spoken feedback and gestures, it offers a full phone experience without needing to look at your screen. Collaborating with the blind and low vision communities, this revamped version of TalkBack features many of users’ top wish list items: new, more intuitive multi finger gestures, a unified menu, new reading controls and customizable menus and gestures.” – Google spokesperson
We were told that the new version of TalkBack will be coming to more devices soon.
Google has updated the Android Accessibility Suite app with new features for TalkBack only a handful of times in the past. Back in October of 2020, the company actually released new multi-finger gesture options, while in April of 2020, the company added a Braille keyboard. We don’t have screenshots to share showing the revamped TalkBack, but if you decide to pick up a Galaxy S21 or own a recent Galaxy device, you’ll be first to experience the new version.