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Android Sound Amplifier updated with new UI as Lookout adds Images mode
In addition to Gboard updates today, Google is updating two of its accessibility apps. Android’s Sound Amplifier gets a redesign and accuracy improvements, while Lookout now offers a new mode for analyzing images.
Introduced in 2019, Sound Amplifier uses the microphones on your Android phone to enhance and filter “important sounds around you.” Google says the latest update improves background noise reduction, while there’s now “faster and more accurate sound.”
There’s also a new Material You UI with a waveform that’s similar to the Recorder app on Pixel phones. A carousel lets you pick input from the phone mic or playing media with cards below to fine-tune noise reduction and boost quiet sounds.
Meanwhile, Lookout uses your phone’s camera to “provide information about the world around you with a variety of modes.” A new Images mode — currently in beta — leverages Google’s latest image understanding ML model to let you “hear a description of an image by simply opening it from just about any app.” Users specifically get a generated caption, details of what’s present in the scene, and any text that appears.
More clearly access labels, menus and receipts in real life using just your Android device’s camera.
Meanwhile, the modes for Text and Documents now offer improved reading order for formatted text, like menus and receipts. The Explore mode “detects objects more accurately,” while the Food Label/barcode reader is better at recognizing products in Brazil and India.
Lookout now also works offline without the need for Wi-Fi or data service. Download or update Lookout in Google Play to get the new features.
Android Automotive OS 12L brings Quick Controls, notification and Bluetooth upgrades, more
Besides tablets, Android 12L also brings a slew of features to Android Automotive OS as Google quietly detailed last month during I/O 2022, which mostly focused on the upcoming Android Auto redesign.
In terms of System UI improvements, Android Automotive OS 12L introduces Quick Controls that allow OEMs to add selected settings, like Bluetooth toggles, to the Status bar or other SysUI elements. This lets users “change key settings safely while driving, without opening the Settings app,” and is dependent on car maker adoption. Each will likely offer their own UI and approach.
There’s also a “notification visual overhaul” that improves grouped notifications, while support for rotary controllers (hardware knob) get bug fixes.
Other highlights include improved Bluetooth reconnection performance that will see AA OS “connect to devices more often and under the right circumstances.” Car OEMs will be able to “preview from automotive camera services, while said manufacturers can now remotely enable ADB and other Android developer options remotely. This could be used for “crypto token access mechanisms and remote web service.”
The full developer-facing changelog for Android Automotive OS 12L is below:
System UI and core apps improvements
- Quick Controls feature. Enables OEMs to add selected settings (for example, Bluetooth toggles) to SysUI (for example, the Status bar) to enable users to change key settings safely while driving, without opening the Settings app.
- Rotary support. Improvements and bug fixes.
- UI Customization. Enabled plugin architecture for custom classes. See Car UI Plugins for details.
- Notification visual overhaul. UX overhaul and grouped notifications improvements.
- Improved Bluetooth reconnection performance. Automatically connect to devices more often and under the right circumstances. To learn more, see Bluetooth connection management.
- Messaging database. Support for using a messaging database through the Message Access Profile (MAP) to provide more flexibility to messaging apps that rely on Bluetooth.
- Per-Application Network Selection (PANS). Enable the creation and enforcement of a dynamic network policy that determines which applications can use
- Dual STA. Enable the IVI to connect to an OEM restricted Wi-Fi network, concurrently with a primary connection to a Wi-Fi network.
- Audio ducking signal. Provides HAL with audio focus state and information on what output devices to duck.
- Volume improvements. Enable for finer control of volume, including providing and API to get active volume groups.
- Muting per volume group. Enable per volume group muting and enhance HAL and UI communication about the mute states.
- AIDL migration for the AudioControl HAL. Migrated the AudioControl HAL from HIDL to AIDL to fully use AIDL functionality.
- Power policy handling for Audio. Enabled power handling functionality for the car audio service, including disable and enable focus requests, and mute and unmute volume groups on power policy changes for audio.
- CarEvsManager. Enables OEMs to implement Android Activity that shows the preview from automotive camera services.
System reliability and stability
- Car watchdog flash memory management. Manages system flash memory by limiting the amount of data written to storage. Enables OEMs to define the write thresholds (for OEM, media, and maps packages) and collect statistics for OEM applications. Disables and terminates non-critical applications and services that exceed defined thresholds.
- Vehicle bound encryption. Android storage encryption can now be configured to store some key encryption parameters on an external ECU. This prevents the harvesting of data by removing the head unit from the car (for example, due to theft or relegated to a junkyard).
- Secure developer options. Android developer options and ADB can be remotely enabled exclusively by an OEM. Reference implementation provides crypto token access mechanisms and remote web service.
- Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) location switch. Access to device location for apps used for ADAS can now be controlled with a separate location switch in the Settings app.
- Edge-based analytics capability. Enables the ability to perform more edge-based metrics processing on Android Automotive devices. Android infotainment and vehicle property metrics can be configured in scripts written in the Lua language and processed on-device to be sent to the backend of OEM choosing.
- Compliance fixes. A number of patches ensure compliance with the Android certification test suites. The Android 12L AAOS Release is 100% compliant on CTS, CTS-Verifier, and STS test suites on our internal reference platform with no additional fixes needed in the AOSP software.