talkback

Using TalkBack (I)

Ataul is a Google Developer Expert for Android focusing on inclusive design for mobile platforms and loves facilitating the production of universally useable apps. Also, he watches a lot of movies.

At Novoda, we maintain a competency or skills matrix for each of our projects. We rate ourselves in areas of the project or technology, from one to four, and this helps us to identify potential information silos so we can avoid them.

I was surprised that no one wrote "4" for "using TalkBack" because I had seen everyone use it at some point. I realised that my understanding of a "4" would be different to someone else's. These posts will explain what I've learned about using TalkBack.

Turn it on

Turn TalkBack on from the Accessibility Settings screen.

gif showing user navigate to settings, accessibility, talkback and switching it on

Focusing on elements using single tap

Tap an element to focus on it. Notice the green box around the element that indicates it is focused (but not "clicked").

gif showing Google Play music with user tapping elements on screen, and green box going around the tapped element

You can also drag your finger around the screen to focus the element that is under your finger.

gif showing Google Play music, with user dragging finger around screen, and green box going around the element under user's finger

Focusing on elements using gestures

"Touch to explore" is fine for users with partial sight. If, however, your vision is more severely impaired, you might need a different navigation method.

It's possible to navigate through elements one-by-one. You can swipe right to navigate to the next item and swipe left to go to the previous item.

gif showing swipe right/left navigation through items

Clicking focused elements using double-tap

Once an element is focused, you can double-tap anywhere on the screen to send a click event to that element. Notice that you do not have to double-tap on the element.

gif showing double tap of focused album in Google Play, navigates to that album

I've seen people try to double-tap directly on an element when a different element has focus, but it doesn't work as expected because the location of the double-tap is not relevant; Android will forward the event to the focused element.

Scrolling through a list

Since dragging one finger is used for "touch to explore", it's necessary to use two fingers to scroll through content on the screen.

gif showing two finger scroll through an album on google play music

You can navigate through list items by swiping right - it should also scroll the list as you reach the end.

gif showing list auto-scroll when you reach the end and swipe right to next item

An exercise for the reader

You now have the necessary skills to turn TalkBack off (navigate to the screen at the start).

A future post will demonstrate more gestures and look at some options to configure TalkBack.

Enjoyed this article? There's more...

We send out a small, valuable newsletter with the best stories, app design & development resources every month.

No spam, no giving your data away, unsubscribe anytime.

About Novoda

We plan, design, and develop the world’s most desirable software products. Our team’s expertise helps brands like Sony, Motorola, Tesco, Channel4, BBC, and News Corp build fully customized Android devices or simply make their mobile experiences the best on the market. Since 2008, our full in-house teams work from London, Liverpool, Berlin, Barcelona, and NYC.

Let’s get in contact

Stay in the loop!

Hear about our events, blog posts and inspiration every month

Subscribe to our newsletter