Use Action Blocks

Action Blocks makes it easier for people who have a cognitive disability to use Android phones and tablets. With Action Blocks, you add common actions to your Home screen with a name or image. Then you can activate the Action Block—for example, a photo—to trigger the corresponding action, like calling a loved one.

Step 1: Check requirements

The Action Blocks app is currently available for English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Japanese.

Before using Action Blocks, make sure that your phone or tablet meets these requirements:

  • Android version 5.0 or later. Learn how to check your Android version.
  • The Google Assistant. The Action Blocks app uses the Google Assistant to make it easy to perform common actions. Learn how to set up the Google Assistant.
  • Google app version 10.73 or later. To check your Google app version, open the Google app Google Search. Select More 더보기 and then Settings and then About. The version of the app is listed under "Version."
  • Internet connection.

Note: The Action Blocks app isn't yet available for children's Google Accounts.

Step 2: Download Action Blocks

Download Action Blocks on Google Play.

Step 3: Set up your first Action Block

You can set up an Action Block to perform a task in just one step: call a loved one, watch your favorite show, control the lights, speak a phrase, and more. You can decide what Action Blocks to create, depending on your needs or the needs of your loved one. 

Set up an Action Block for a common action

You can create Action Blocks that use the Google Assistant to perform common actions. Learn what you can ask the Google Assistant.

  1. Open the Action Blocks app .
  2. Select Create Action Block.
  3. Choose one of the common actions from the list, such as Make phone call.
  4. If you want the device to speak the command aloud when the Action Block is pressed, select Speak action out loud. If the action includes sensitive information, consider deselecting the checkbox.
  5. If you want the device to vibrate when the Action Block is pressed, select Vibrate.
  6. To try the Action Block, select Test action, then select Next.
  7. Add an image, name, or both:
    • Image: To choose an image from your Photo Library, Camera, or Symbol library (including Picture Communication Symbols), tap Select . If you choose an image from your Photo Library or Camera, you can crop it, or select Always show whole image to make sure that the entire image always appears on the Home screen. To create a text-only Action Block, select No image.
    • Action Block name: Enter a name for the Action Block. To create an image-only Action Block, leave the name empty.
  8. Select Save Action Block.
  9. Follow the prompts on your screen to add the Action Block to your Home screen.

Note: In some cases, you need to give the Google Assistant permission to work with other services on your device. In your device settings app, select Apps & notifications and then Assistant and then See all assistant settings and then Services. Select the services that you want to use with Action Blocks. Learn more about choosing what to share with your Google Assistant.

Set up an Action Block to say something out loud

You can create Action Blocks to say something out loud, such as "Hello my name is." Your text will be sent to Google to convert to a voice file.

  1. Open the Action Blocks app .
  2. Select Create Action Block.
  3. Select Say something out loud, then choose one of the common phrases from the list. If you’d like to enter your own phrase, select Create custom phrase.
  4. In the Voice menu, choose a voice to speak the phrase. 
  5. To hear the voice, select Test speech, then select Next.
  6. Add an image, name, or both:
    • Image: To choose an image from your Photo Library, Camera, or Symbol library (including Picture Communication Symbols), tap Select . If you choose an image from your Photo Library or Camera, you can crop it, or select Always show whole image to make sure that the entire image always appears on the Home screen. To create a text-only Action Block, select No image.
    • Action Block name: Enter a name for the Action Block. To create an image-only Action Block, leave the name empty.
  7. Select Save Action Block.
  8. Follow the prompts on your screen to add the Action Block to your Home screen.

Step 4: Use Action Blocks

After you create an Action Block and place it on your Home screen, simply select the Action Block to perform the action.

Manage Action Blocks

After you set up Action Blocks, you can make adjustments so that the setup works better for you or your loved one. 

Assign an adaptive switch to an Action Block

This feature may be useful to people with motor impairments who prefer to use adaptive switches. 

  1. Connect a switch to your phone via USB or Bluetooth. Make sure that the switch isn't already assigned to another Action Block or another app.
  2. Open the Action Blocks app .
  3. Select the Action Block that you want to use with a switch, then select Edit.
  4. Select Assign to an external switch. You might be asked to enable the Action Blocks Accessibility service. Select OK.
  5. Press the switch that you'd like to use for the Action Block. 
  6. Select Save to save your switch assignment. 
  7. To enable the on-screen keyboard, go to the Settings app   System and then Languages & input  and then  Physical keyboard. Turn on Show virtual keyboard.
  8. Press the switch to use your Action Block. 

Edit or delete Action Blocks

  1. Open the Action Blocks app .
  2. Select an Action Block to view options, including Edit, Delete, and more.

Note: If an Action Block is labeled "Not placed," it's inactive. To make an Action Block active, add it to the Home screen following the instructions in the next section.

Add an Action Block to the Home screen

You can add Action Blocks to the Home screen in two ways:

  • On your Home screen, touch and hold until a menu pops up. Select Widgets, then find Action Blocks in the list of widgets.
  • In the Action Blocks app, select the Action Block. In the menu, select Place on Home screen. (This option isn't available on all devices.)

Move an Action Block on your Home screen

  1. Touch and hold the Action Block on your Home screen.
  2. Slide the Action Block to where you want it. Lift your finger.

Resize an Action Block on your Home screen 

  1. Touch and hold the Action Block on your Home screen.
  2. Lift your finger. You'll see an outline with dots on the sides.
  3. To resize the Action Block, drag the dots.
  4. When you're done, tap outside the Action Block.

Troubleshooting

If you see one of these error messages, follow the steps below.

"Can't connect to the Google Assistant"

  1. Check that you have the Google app installed.
  2. Check that the Google Assistant is turned on, with an account signed in.
  3. Try tapping the Action Block again. 
  4. If you see the error again, restart the Google app, or restart your phone.

"Action unavailable" or "Can't complete this action"

  1. Check that the Google Assistant is turned on, with an account signed in.
  2. Try tapping the Action Block again.

Send feedback

For help using Action Blocks, contact the Disability Support team at g.co/disabilitysupport.

To send feedback about Action Blocks:

  1. Open the Action Blocks app .
  2. In the top right corner, select Help Help.
  3. At the bottom of the page, select Send feedback.

Action Blocks activity

Google collects certain data related to your use of Action Blocks in order to provide and improve the service. While this data will not be shown in My Activity, it will be deleted after you uninstall or stop using Action Blocks.