Google turns Android phones into a massive earthquake detection system

Most smartphones have accelerometers that make automatic screen rotation and other features possible. Now Google has found another user for them: earthquake detection. The company is rolling out a feature for Android smartphones that can allow your mobile device to sense the kind of movements that might indicate an earthquake is happening. Then your phone […]

Lilbits 403: Microsoft release GW-Basic source code, hackers get an early crack at iOS 14

Microsoft’s GW-BASIC is a programming language that was released in 1983 and bundled with MS-DOS on early PCs. It was the first programming language many students and developers learned in the 80s, and nearly four decades later, Microsoft has released the source code. Available from Github, the code is being released “for historical reference/interest purposes,” […]

Apple brings mouse support to iPads and iPhones (as an accessibility feature in iOS 13/iPadOS)

Apple has been claiming for years that you can use an iPad Pro to get real work done… as long as you don’t think you need a mouse for work, because up until now iOS hasn’t supported mouse input. But that changed this week when Apple launched developer previews of iPadOS and iOS 13. Now […]

Lilbits 360: Apple and Qualcomm call off their lawsuits

Apple and Qualcomm have announced a new six-year license agreement that starts this month, a multi-year chipset supply agreement, and end to all litigation between the two companies. That’s… a little surprising, quite honestly. The companies have been fighting over patents for years, with the latest court case getting underway just this week. Update: OK, […]

Google’s Live Transcribe mobile app displays closed captions for the real world

Google is introducing two new smartphone apps designed to help folks who are deaf or hard of hearing. One is the previously-announced Sound Amplifier app for Android phones, which is available starting today. It lets you put on smartphone headphones to reduce background noise, amplify quiet sounds, and leave loud noises alone. The other is […]

Google’s Voice Access app lets you control a phone by talking

Google’s Android operating system already has some built-in accessibility features designed to make it easier for people with disabilities to use their phones. But for the past few years Google has been beta testing a new app called Voice Access which makes it much easier to use an Android phone without touching it. Now Voice […]

Microsoft Soundscape app provides audio map tools for the visually impaired

Microsoft’s been working on accessibility tools to help visually impaired people navigate the world through mobile devices and audio cues for years. The company introduced its Seeing AI technology in 2016, providing tools to identify people, places, and read signs, menus, and other items aloud. And in 2014 the company unveiled 3D Soundscape, a system […]

Google puts accessibility services app crackdown on hold (for now)

Last month Google began telling developers of Android apps that used the operating system’s accessibility services in unexpected ways that they’d have to modify their apps or have them pulled from the Play Store. In one way, that makes sense: accessibility services like screen readers grant apps access to a lot of information they wouldn’t […]

Google Play Store bans apps that use Accessibility Services in unintended ways

Google’s Android phones include a set of Accessibility Services that are designed to make phones or tablets usable by people with physical disabilities. For example, users with visual impairments can use a screen reader to navigate their phone with verbal feedback. But developers have found creative uses for Google’s accessibility APIs, since they allow an […]

Switch Access in Google Android O lets you control phones from a physical switch

Google is bringing some accessibility improvements to the next version of Android, including updates to the Talkback screen reader such as new gestures and volume settings, and new APIs. There’s a Select to Speak feature which can read whole web pages aloud, or just allow you to scroll your finger over the display to choose […]