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Google Assistant is getting Tasker-style functionality with Action Blocks

Action Blocks could make Assistant more accessible to millions of people with cognitive disabilities.

Published onOctober 3, 2019

Google Pixel 3a Purple-ish Assistant

Google Assistant is pretty robust already, offering comprehensive voice and text support. But the search company is trying to make its virtual assistant even more accessible with the Action Blocks feature.

In a blog post announcing the feature, Google noted that there are over 600 million people with cognitive disabilities. This means voice or text commands might not be feasible for some people.

Fortunately, Action Blocks allows users to add specific Google Assistant commands to their homescreen (along with a custom image to go with it). Once added to the homescreen, a single tap will initiate the command in question. This is similar to Tasker Shortcuts seen in the Tasker automation app.

Specific examples of Action Blocks include a ride-share request, live location sharing, toggling a smart light, and watching your favorite TV show. Check the GIF below for a better idea of how it works:

Google Assistant Action Blocks.

Action Blocks for Google Assistant is still in the testing phase, but Google is calling on caregivers and family members of people with cognitive disabilities to join the testing program over here.

This isn’t the only accessibility feature Google has been working on in the past year or so. The firm has also introduced a Live Transcribe app (transcribing sounds from the world around you), a Sound Amplifier tool, and it’s working on Live Caption tech in Android 10. The latter feature uses on-device machine learning to generate captions for local and web videos alike.

What else would you like to see in Google Assistant? Give us your thoughts below!

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