Over the years, Google has been gradually expanding the list of accessibility options in the Android mobile operating system. These features, which include compatibility with certain control methods and peripherals, give an increased degree of control to those who may otherwise have difficulty operating an Android phone the traditional way. One of the more flexible features is “Switch Access,” which allows users to highlight and select stuff on an Android phone using external Bluetooth or USB peripherals. With the latest Android update, now the only peripheral you’ll need is your own face.
Yesterday, Google silently updated the Android Accessibility Suite found in Android 12 phones, specifically Pixel phones at the moment, with a new permutation: “Camera Switch.” In a nutshell, this new feature allows you to control the movement and interaction of your Android phone screen using nothing but your own facial expressions. Camera Switch allows for two kinds of facial control: you can use your camera to “scan” a particular facial expression and have that expression be associated with a particular app, or you set multiple expressions to control different forms of Android control.
Beta Android accessibility feature uses facial expressions to control your phone https://t.co/l9EuccxFJE pic.twitter.com/6L5dbBneUc
— The Verge (@verge) August 16, 2021
At the moment, Camera Switch can recognize when you open your mouth, raise your eyebrows, look up, down, left, or right, or smile. When setting up the feature, you’ll need to program expressions for scrolling through and clicking on stuff, as well as an expression that temporarily pauses the use of the feature. While the feature is active, you’ll have a little notification informing you that the camera is on and scanning, so don’t worry about it watching you without your consent. Using this feature constantly, though, can drain your battery a bit faster than usual.
Camera Switch is only available on Android 12 phones, though some users have noticed that it can work on Android 11 phones under the right conditions.