Reading inaccessible screens on Android (revisited)

A few years ago I published an article that described how to read inaccessible screens on Android with TalkBack screen reader. Well into 2019, one can find quite a few apps in the Play Store that not only scan text on the screen, but also recognize text and objects in images.

Two such apps I particularly like are Speak and Envision AI. Both can be used as stand-alone apps for extracting text in images and recognizing objects in the camera’s viewfinder. Since Speak and Envision AI make their functionality also available to other apps on the system, via the “share” sheet, screens with inaccessible text or images with no descriptions can be sent directly to either.

Here is just one of the examples of how I like using Speak and Envision AI when browsing posts on Facebook. Say, someone shared an image of a poster with some text on it. With TalkBack screen reader on and Facebook app opened, I would:

  • Find a post with an image in it
  • Tap on the image to open it on the new screen (with additional options)
  • Tap on the “more options” button, then “share”
  • Pick either Speak or Envision AI from the “share with” list

At this point both Speak and Envision AI will open containing any extracted text as well as the description of any objects found in the image. There may be additional options available depending on the app in use, but the overall layout should be pretty similar.

In my everyday use I found Envision AI can handle more objects and languages, but the results are pretty close. Best though is to try these apps for yourself!

Enjoy as always!

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