Speech only setup

This setup is aimed at someone who relies solely on Android’s screenreader, Talkback.



– Choose a handset which is comfortable to hold – ideally one you can use one handed.  A very tiny phone might potentially make using explore by touch difficult.

– Choose a handset with a good quality speaker, even up to a phone with dual, front facing speakers (many phones have a single speaker at the back, which is great for playing music aloud for friends, but less ideal when listenting to it yourself.



– Turn your screen brightness down all the way – the screen is one of the biggest users of battery.

Shades: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.googlecode.eyesfree.shades

Shades takes turning your screen brightness down to a new level – enabling you to effectively turn your screen all the way to black, saving even more battery and increasing your privacy by preventing people seeing what is on your screen.




Nova Launcher:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.teslacoilsw.launcher

or Apex Launcher: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.anddoes.launcher

Some internal launchers (eg Samsung’s Touchwiz launcher) work with Talkback and you may be happy to keep that.


– Both Apex and Nova work well with Talkback, and offer more features than virtually all of the stock launchers.  They both have a free version and a paid premium version with more features.  I (don’t quite) recall a conversation with someone around a particular feature of Apex which didn’t work with Talkback, however I’d say check them both out, and also both developers were extremely quick to improve Talkback accessibility when I brought issues to their attention.


Phone dialer:


Internal or

ExDialer: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.modoohut.dialer


– Some internal dialer and contacts apps work better than others.  ExDialer is an alternative which works well with Talkback.  The only niggle is that as you scroll through contacts there is provision for a photo next to each and you need two swipes to move past each contact.





Handcent SMS: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.handcent.nextsms

or Chomp SMS: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.p1.chompsms

or Internal


– Depending on your needs, the internal SMS app does work from a number of manufacturers.  If you need more features, Chomp and Handcent are both accessible with Talkback.




Aqua Mail: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.kman.AquaMail


– While the inbuilt Mail and GMail apps work, Aqua Mail works very well with Talkback, and as a bonus, the darker colour scheme uses less of the battery running your screen.


Web Browser:


Firefox: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.mozilla.firefox


– Firefox is much more accessible than the built in browser or Google’s Chrome.


Social media – Facebook:

Facebook: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.facebook.katana

or FriendCaster: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.co.senab.blueNotifyFree


– The official Facebook app works quite well with Talkback.  Facebook does have a habbit of changing things constantly though so if you do encounter problems, Firefox is currently a good backup option.

– Friendcaster is another option though may not be as easy to respond to friend requests with Talkback.


Social media – Twitter:

Plume: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.levelup.touiteur


– Plume offers more options and configuration than the official Twitter app.


Text Recognition (OCR):

Text Detective: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.blindsight.textdetective


– Very accessible Text Recognition app, very smooth for scanning and reading information aloud quickly.



Google Calendar (inbuilt)


CalWidget: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.eggenstein.android.calwidget


– Set Google Calendar to Agenda mode for easier reading.

– CalWidget gives you more flexibility for being notified about upcoming events in the notifcation area, and also has a customisable widget.


Note Taking / Shopping List:


Lemo Memo: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.sweetlemonade.tasks

or Oi Notepad:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.openintents.notepad


– Oi Notepad is only a notepad whereas Lemo Memo has a ‘list’ function as well.


Maps and Navigation:


Nearby Explorer (US ONLY): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.aph.avigenie

Point Finder (Accessibility): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=au.com.picospace.pointfinder

AroundMe: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=au.com.picospace.pointfinder

Intersection Explorer: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.marvin.intersectionexplorer


– There’s a few options there and what works best really depends on how you want to use the app.


Colour Identification:


Color ID: ttps://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=greengar.color.identifier


– Regularly announces the colour seen in the centre of the camera.




Accupedo pedometer: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.corusen.accupedo.te

Zombies Run:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sixtostart.zombiesrun

The Walk:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sixtostart.thewalk


– Accupedo pedometer is a straight pedometer, counting your steps.

– Zombies Run is a story based running / exercise bike / cardio app (you are running to get supplies for your township and trying to escape the zombies).

– The Walk is a story based walking app from the creators of Zombies, Run.


Reading eBooks:


– Google Books (inbuilt)


MP3 player:


DeadBeef player: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.deadbeef.android



Offline Dictionary: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=fr.nghs.android.dictionnaires

WordWeb: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wordwebsoftware.android.wordweb


Are there any apps / categories I have missed?  I know there are and I intend to build on the list as I go but would love your help!  Please let me know in the comments below!


Otherwise, return to Sample phone setup options


4 thoughts on “Speech only setup

  1. Thanks for ths. I’m struggling todecide whether to buy an iPhone or an Android phone. Most of the Android info is outdated. I’d actually rather go the Android route, but Iphone info is so much more easy to find.

  2. You’re welcome Bill! And you’re right, there isn’t as much information out there about the accessibility features of Android (both inbuilt and 3rd party) – and because one of Android’s strengths is it’s customisability, it does mean there are some great things you can do to make the phone work better, for YOU. I have a page of other resources, such as a couple of other blogs and also an email list on Android for VI users: http://qchristensen.wordpress.com/links/

  3. I used the iPhone since the 3gs in whatever year it was released I can’t recall. I upgraded to an iPhone 5 the year after its release. And just this month I got a samsung galaxy s5. I love android. I am a person who apparently can’t use both systems at the same time. So I am all android now. It fits my needs. But do your research and decide for yourself. After using android for a couple of weeks I can’t believe how much I have been missing. Although to my knowledge android accessibility really didn’t compete much with apple till around the beginning of 2013. Sadly I can’t help you decide which would be best for you. That really is personal preference. I can say that most of the apps one uses on the iPhone have very accessible android alternatives. I actually prefer the android’s approach.

  4. For an audio recorder section – you may want to include Amazing Audio Voice Recorder (search Google Play for “Amazing Audio”) – which was designed with feedback from the Eyes-Free google group – and has good reviews from TalkBack users on Google Play.

    The Google Play version is for Android 4.0 and above devices. For Android 2.2 and above devices, you can download an APK from our website:

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