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Google Action Blocks

By:  Stephen Polacek

I came across this on LinkedIn this week, but it’s been around for a while apparently.  Last October, Google announced the release of a new accessibility option – Action Blocks.  Essentially, they are macros; shortcut commands that you program to perform an action.  For example, you can set one to set your alarm for tomorrow and every time you press it, it will set the alarm for the next day at the specified time.  You can also give the block a custom picture, such as an alarm clock in this case, for easy visual recognition.  There is an option to read aloud what the block does as well, though they caution that if the block is programmed to do something secure (such as log into email), you should turn the option off.  The blog post linked here (https://www.blog.google/outreach-initiatives/accessibility/action-blocks/ ) advertises that the program can originally intended for those with cognitive disabilities but looking at it a bit myself, I think it could help nearly anyone.  By simplifying multi-step actions into a single button press, Action Blocks enable any user to handle more complicated tasks easily and quickly, especially ones that people repeat frequently.  It would be a lot easier to call your morning ride on Mobility or Uber with a single button rather than fiddling through menus. 

Action blocks is available here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.accessibility.maui.actionblocks.  Please note that the program is only available in English on Android devices.  For help with setting up and using action blocks, use this link: https://support.google.com/accessibility/android/answer/9711267?hl=en.  It is being updated but note many of the reviews show that the program still has a way to go to be stable.   I wrote this post because I personally had not heard much about such automation tools.  Hopefully, this kind of thing will become more of a headliner in the tech world.  

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