Google TalkBack

Google TalkBack is Google’s screen reader app, designed to help people with a vision impairment use their Android smartphone more easily. The TalkBack app helps people access features of their Android phone that may otherwise be difficult or impossible to use so they can better stay connected.

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What is a Google TalkBack screen reader?

The Android TalkBack app uses screen reading, vibrations, and sound alerts to help users browse the internet through Chrome, read and write emails, check notifications, and use social media and apps without needing to see the screen. Google TalkBack is built into many Android devices, but you can also download it from the Google Play Store.

If you would prefer to watch the video without an audio description, there is a non-described version here rather than the accessible one above.

How do I use Google TalkBack?

When you set up TalkBack for the first time, Google will walk you through a brief tutorial, which you can return to whenever you need a refresher. For additional help, you can also access Google’s online manual - Get started on Android with TalkBack.

Once it’s set up, you can activate Google TalkBack at any time with a voice command or a hand gesture - like a double tap. Alternatively, you can manually activate TalkBack and change its settings by selecting Settings > System > Accessibility > Services > TalkBack. You can turn off Google TalkBack in the same way.

Google TalkBack Android app has several clever features that make life easier for people with sight loss.

These include:

  • The ability to use a range of customisable single- and multi-finger gestures to control apps, select the text, swipe backwards or forwards, take shortcuts, or start and stop media. For example, a recent update to TalkBack 9.1 allows you to pause your podcast with a double tap. TalkBack finger gestures differ from standard Android gestures and those used for VoiceOver on iOS for iPhone.
  • Allowing for Bluetooth braille keyboard (recently updated with two new languages: Spanish and Arabic), voice command and standard keyboard input, so you can choose the method that meets your needs. You can also connect a Bluetooth braille display to your Android device to use alongside or instead of the keyboard and speaker.
  • Connecting with Google Assistant, which is Google’s voice command system (much like Apple’s Siri). Once you have Google Assistant set up (to do this, select Settings > Google Assistant > Hey Google & Voice Match > On), you can use it to control TalkBack by asking “Hey, Google” to turn TalkBack on or off.

Frequently asked questions

Find out how technology can help you live independently with sight loss.

Technically reviewed by: Subject Matter Experts on 02/11/2023

Guide Dogs is committed to integrating technology into our service delivery and promoting excellence in accessibility and usability. Our staff undergo comprehensive training in technology and accessibility in collaboration with industry leaders like Apple. We foster knowledge of technology and create content through our Technology Champions, comprising Vision Rehabilitation Specialists and Habilitation Specialists. We review this content periodically to ensure that it is up to date and includes new features and changes with operating systems. We work with our partners to ensure accessibility is at the centre of the design. To find out more, there is more information in our accessibility policy.

Whilst Guide Dogs may be able to suggest various third-party websites and third-party applications which may be able to assist you, those are not endorsed by Guide Dogs. Guide Dogs have no control over those third parties and cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of information and support they can provide or the suitability and quality of any products or services they provide.