How to set up your Android smartphone using Google Voice Access





The original release of Android didn’t include accessibility solutions. But, Google has slowly added more and 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 amazing back then, it became even better with Android 11. Thankfully, because of these improvements, we can now set up an Android smartphone using Voice Access. In order to get started, on the initial setup screen, you will want to select the Assistive options menu and tap on Set up with your voice. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will be using a Google Pixel 6a, but the process should be similar to any Android device with Google Mobile Services.

On the next screen, it will explain Voice Access, which is an Android Accessibility service that helps control your device using speech. You can speak to type, scroll, and even tap buttons. On the bottom right-hand corner, there will be a button, press it to turn on Voice Access. Before Voice Access is enabled, there will be a screen explaining how it works.

While the screen is on, there will be a blue mic icon on the screen which means the phone is listening to your commands. While Google recommends having Voice Access listen to commands while the screen is on, you can turn this off. When the feature is off, it will only listen to commands for the first 30 seconds, after this, it will shut off the mic.

Once you reach the Voice Access is now listening screen, you can start using commands. From here, say “tap next” to proceed. Going forward, you can give the phone a variety of commands. You can try different commands off the top of your head, or if you want more guidance, you can check out the detailed command list below.

Basic and Navigational Voice Commands

General commands

  • 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 is [number]?
  • Stop Voice Access
  • Send feedback

Settings

  • Turn on Bluetooth
  • Turn off Bluetooth
  • Turn up volume
  • Turn down volume
  • Turn [media/alarm/phone] volume up
  • Turn [media/alarm/phone] volume down
  • Mute
  • Silence
  • Unmute
  • Mute [media/alarm/phone] volume
  • Unmute [media/alarm/phone] volume
  • Turn device off

Assistant

You can speak commands to the Google Assistant, such as:

  • Hey Google, set timer for [amount of time]
  • Hey Google, turn on flashlight
  • Hey Google, when was the Empire State Building built?
  • Hey Google, who created Google?

Voice Access numbers

To show an overlay of numbers next to all items on your screen, you can say “Show numbers.” If you aren’t sure about something, you can also say “Show labels” to get suggestions about what’s on the screen.

Search in apps

You can quickly search in an app as long as it has a search field by saying “Search for [shoes]”.

Answer calls

When you receive a call from someone, you can answer the call by saying, “Answer call.”

Gesture Commands

Touch gestures

  • Tap [OK]
  • [OK]
  • Long-press
  • Switch on
  • Switch off
  • Expand [notification]
  • Collapse [notification]

Swipe gestures

  • Scroll [up, down, left, right]
  • Scroll [up, down, left, right] on
  • Scroll to top
  • Scroll to bottom
  • Swipe forwards
  • Swipe backwards

Grid Selection

Rather than selecting specific objects, there is also the option to navigate using a grid.

  1. To start grid selection, say “Show grid.”
  2. To make the grid bigger or smaller, say “More squares” or “Fewer squares.”
  3. To interact with the grid, say a number, or use commands. For example:
    • “3”
    • “Tap 7”
    • “Swipe right” or “Swipe left”
    • “Scroll up” or “Scroll down”
    • “Swipe 5 up”
    • “Swipe left on 12”
    • “Pinch in”
    • “Pinch out”
  4. To hide the grid, say “Hide grid.”

Magnification

You can take advantage of these commands to zoom in or magnify the screen on your Android device.

Start magnification

  • Start magnification
  • Start zooming

Zoom in or out

  • Magnify
  • Zoom in
  • Enhance
  • Zoom out

Pan up, down, left, or right

  • Scroll [up, down, left, right]
  • Pan [up, down, left, right]
  • Move [up, down, left, right]
  • Go [up, down, left, right]

Stop magnification

  • Stop magnification
  • Stop zooming
  • Cancel zooming

Text editing

Voice Access is not only for actions, you can also type, edit, and format text using your voice. When in use, the feature will show a blue border around the text that can be edited. If a blue border is unavailable, you can move to a new text field by saying the number.

Tips:

  • Replace [word or phrase] with your own commands.
  • Starred commands (*) work for characters, words, sentences, lines, paragraphs, or pages.

Type text

  • Type [word or phrase]
  • [word or phrase]
  • Undo
  • Redo
  • Insert [word or phrase] before [word or phrase]
  • Insert [word or phrase] after [word or phrase]
  • Insert [word or phrase] between [word or phrase] and [word or phrase]
  • Format email
    • 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 ([email protected]) say “format email.”
  • Stop editing

Replace text

  • Replace [word or phrase] with [word or phrase]
  • Replace everything between [word or phrase] and [word or phrase] with [word or phrase]
  • Capitalize [word or phrase]
  • Uppercase [word or phrase]
  • Lowercase [word or phrase]

Delete text

  • Delete
  • Delete all
  • Delete [word or phrase]
  • Delete to the beginning
  • Delete to the end
  • Delete selected text
  • Delete from [word or phrase] to [word or phrase]
  • Delete [3] words*
  • Delete the next [5] sentences*

Move the cursor

  • Go to the beginning
  • Go to the end
  • Move after [word or phrase]
  • Move before [word or phrase]
  • Move between [word or phrase] and [word or phrase]
  • Right [4] characters*
  • Left [6] words*

Select text

  • Select all text
  • Unselect all text
  • Select to the beginning
  • Select to the end
  • Select [word or phrase]
  • Select from [word or phrase] to [word or phrase]
  • Select [5] sentences*
  • Select the next [6] lines*

Cut, copy, and paste

Show or hide the keyboard

  • Show keyboard
  • Hide keyboard

Stop Voice Access

If you want to stop Voice Access, you can perform any one of the following actions:

  • Touch anywhere on the screen.
  • Say, “Stop listening.”
  • Turn the screen off. To save battery, Voice Access automatically stops when the screen is off.
  • Open your notification shade, then tap Touch to pause.
  • If you set up a Bluetooth switch, you can press the switch to stop Voice Access.
  • If you turned on “Time out after no speech” in Voice Access settings, you can wait thirty seconds.

If you want to turn off Voice Access completely, you can head into the Settings menu, Accessibility, and then navigate to Voice Access.


As you can see, there are plenty of commands that can get you through pretty much anything, and also there are 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 place markers to make navigation easier. You can see an example of this in the image to the right. From this point on, you can continue through the menus, and once you reach the end, you will have set up your Android device using Voice Access.




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