We all use our phones for a ton of routine tasks that require a few steps to implement. For instance, if you’re going to video chat a family member you might have to find the video app on your phone, tap to open it, then scroll through your contact list to find the person you want to talk to.
For most of us that can all happen pretty quickly, but for people with cognitive disabilities or an age-related cognitive condition, remembering all those steps—even just three of them—can be a bit of a challenge. And for those with limited mobility, performing three touchscreen presses essentially means a process that’s three times as hard.
This week Google launched Action Blocks for Android to help streamline simple tasks for those who need it. With the Google-made app, Android users can create customisable home screen buttons to launch a particular activity of their choosing.
Once installed, those shortcuts will be able to handle all three steps of that video chat equation discussed above, or anything else—making performing everyday tasks easier for those who might have difficulty with the traditional process.
Buttons can be created for any action that Google Assistant can traditionally perform. That means it works for things like taking a selfie, sending a text, placing a video call or even controlling smart home equipment like a connected thermostat.
The app itself is easy to understand and has shortcuts on the first page to help you efficiently set up buttons for common actions. For more complicated processes, “Create custom action” will help you set up a button to make it happen; onscreen instructions can help you set up pretty much any shortcut you want in seconds.
It’s worth noting that since Google Assistant can handle all the same things, it might be worth teaching the person whose phone you’re adding these buttons to how to use that as well. That said, Action Blocks can be a powerful tool to make common tasks easier for anyone who needs a bit of extra help.