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Android 12 now lets you use front-facing cameras, facial expressions to navigate your phone

Last week, Google released its fourth Android 12 beta for Pixel devices, bringing with it a new version of the Android Accessibility Suite. This updated version adds a new accessibility feature Google is calling ‘Camera Switches.’ As the feature name implies, Camera Switches is a new way to interact with an Android device using facial gestures detected with a device’s front-facing camera.

As detailed by XDA Developers, the new featured is buried quite deep in the Android Accessiblity Suite app’s ‘Switch Access’ submenu. When turned on, the feature lets you map six face gestures (Open Mouth, Smile, Raise Eyebrows, Look Left, Look Right and Look Up) to one of the following actions:

  • Pause Camera Switch
  • Toggle auto-scan (disabled)
  • Reverse auto-scan
  • Select
  • Next
  • Previous
  • Touch & hold
  • Scroll forward
  • Scroll backward
  • Home
  • Back
  • Notifications
  • Quick Settings
  • Overview

For example, you can trigger your phone to go to the previous screen when you look left and go to the next screen when you look right. You could also trigger the phone to go to the home screen then you raise you look up and select the highlighted item when you raise your eyebrows.

Click to enlarge.

To ensure accidental triggers don’t happen, Camera Switch has an option to set ‘Gesture Size’ points as well as ‘Gesture Duration’ timeframes, as seen in the above screenshots captured by XDA Developers’ Mishaal Rahman.

A list of the settings within the Camera Switch menu.

Rahman notes that he was also able to side load the new Android Accessibility Suite application package (APK) to a device running Android 11, suggesting this new accessibility feature may be backwards compatible. The updated Android Accessibility Suite app should be rolling out soon for compatible devices. If you’re impatient, you could also side load the APK via APKMirror.

Image credits: Screenshots by Mishaal Rahman/XDA Developers, used with permission.