Underpinning Assistant are voice interactions that make day-to-day tasks more natural. Google is now bringing that same level of convenience to those with accessibility needs through Actions Blocks.

Action Blocks are essentially Google Assistant shortcuts that can be placed on the Android homescreen. Aimed at users with cognitive disabilities, voice commands can be launched via a tap rather than speaking.

Think about the last time you did something seemingly simple on your phone, like booking a rideshare. To do this, you had to unlock your phone, find the right app, and type in your pickup location. The process required you to read and write, remember your selections, and focus for several minutes at a time. For the 630 million people in the world with some form of cognitive disability, it’s not that easy.

These visual cues are created via an Action Blocks app that has an interface similar to setting Assistant Routines. You specify a name for the shortcut, enter the Assistant command, and include any picture from your device. Users can then place it anywhere on their homescreen. Once the Action Block is tapped, it launches the same Assistant sheet to enter and complete the command.

Action Blocks are still currently in testing, though Google has a trusted tester program if “you’re the caregiver or family member of someone with a cognitive disability that could benefit.”

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com