The first public beta of TalkBack 5.2 has been posted for Android users. As we previously reported, this new release introduces a variety of features including custom verbosity settings which allow a user to select how much speech feedback is given while navigating. Feedback via sound is also different in this version, with a new collection of earcons, the sounds that are played to indicate various elements on the screen. The new sounds are less musical and more brief and to the point.
For those who may wish to obtain speech feedback occasionally, Select to Speak is now available as an accessibility service. This option will let you highlight blocks of text to be spoken without committing to TalkBack full-time. It works best with TalkBack suspended or disabled.
To join the TalkBack public beta and receive new versions as they are posted, you first need to join the Eyes-free mailing list though you can elect to not receive messages via Email. Then, Select this link to join the beta. For now, The usual caveats about beta software apply. Here's the complete list of features from the announcement.
What's new in TalkBack 5.2
The new Speech Verbosity setting lets you control how much spoken feedback you hear. Go to Talkback Settings > Verbosity. and choose Custom, High, or Low. Custom (the default setting) lets you adjust all your speech preferences. Choose High to quickly turn on speech preferences, or choose Low to quickly turn off speech preferences. New spoken feedback: Hear spoken feedback when you turn magnification on or off by triple-tapping, or when you zoom in or out by pinching. Hear the number of characters when you enter passwords in Chrome web views, starting in Chrome 56. The word "dismissable" is no longer spoken on dismissable elements, such as notifications in the notification shade. Instead, the usage hint informs you when elements are dismissable. "Custom actions" are now simply called "Actions." Other improvements: Shorter delay before usage hints. Updated earcons. Other minor fixes.
Introducing Select to Speak
Select to Speak is a new accessibility service designed for people with print disabilities. With Select to Speak, you can tap items on your screen to hear them read or described aloud.
When you upgrade to TalkBack 5.2, Select to Speak is included automatically. To try Select to Speak after upgrading to TalkBack 5.2, go to Accessibility > Select To Speak.
It is best to use Select To Speak while TalkBack is either not turned on or is in "suspended" mode.
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.