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.

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.