What is Google Action Blocks and how to set up for Android?

What is Action blocks

Google Action Blocks is a useful app for Android that makes routine actions easier with customizable buttons on your Android home screen. Powered by the Google Assistant, you can easily set up Action Blocks for a loved one. Action Blocks can be configured to do anything the Assistant can do, in just one tap: call a friend, watch your favorite show, control the lights, and more.

Built with the growing number of people with age-related conditions and cognitive differences in mind, Action Blocks can also be used for people with learning differences, or even for adults who want a very simple way to access routine actions on their phones. Set it up for your family, friends, or for yourself.

Action Blocks may also be useful for anyone who could benefit from an easier way to perform routine actions on their device, including individuals with dementia, aphasia, autism, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, Down syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dexterity impairments, or other conditions. People who use adaptive switches, Switch Access, or Voice Access may also benefit.

How to set up Google Action Blocks on your Android mobile?

How to set up Google Action Blocks

Pick your Android phone that has version 5.0 and later.

The Action Blocks app uses the Google Assistant to make it easy to perform common actions. So set up the Google Assistant.

You also need Google app version 10.73 or later. To check your Google app version, open the Google app . Select More   Settings  About. The version of the app is listed under “Version.”

Also you should be connected to the internet or WIFI connection before you begin.

You can set up Action Blocks to do anything the Assistant can do, in just one step: call a loved one, share your location, watch your favorite show, control the lights, and more. You can decide what Action Blocks to create, depending on your needs or the needs of your loved one.

To download the Action Blocks app and create your first Action Block: 

  • Download Action Blocks on Google Play.
  • Select the Action Blocks app.
  • Select Create Action Block.
  • Choose one of the common actions from the list, such as Make a phone call.
  • Follow the prompts on your screen to add details to your Action Block.
  • If you want the device to speak the command aloud when the Action Block is pressed, select Always speak this action out loud. If the action includes sensitive information, consider deselecting the checkbox.
  • To try the Action Block, select Test action.
  • Choose an image to appear on the Home screen. To change the image, select Edit.
  • Enter an Action Block name.
  • Select Save Action Block.
  • Follow the prompts on your screen to add the Action Block to your Home screen.

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  Assistant  See all assistant settings  Services. Select the services that you want to use with Action Blocks.

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

  • After you set up Action Blocks, you can make adjustments so that the setup works better for you or your loved one.
  • Edit or delete Action Blocks
  • Open the Action Blocks app .
  • Select an Action Block to view options, including Edit, Delete, and more.

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.

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.)

Now to move an Action Block on your Home screen

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

You can also resize an Action Block on your Home screen 

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

New features added to Action Block

New features added to Google Action Blocks

Lately, Google is also adding features to Live Transcribe, Bluetooth support to Sound Amplify, and better navigation options to Voice Access. Each of these features could be critically important to a person with a disability, though they could be useful regardless. Action Blocks, in particular, could help you set up little Google Assistant macros to automate common things you’d normally have to use your voice for, like asking it to turn off all of the lights in your house.

Live transcribe is the new feature where you can set specific words that Google’s transcription engine might not recognize, like a specifically hard-to-transcribe name or technical term. You do so by simply typing the word into Live Transcribe’s settings; you don’t actually need to train it by speaking the word out loud.

Live Transcribe already offered the ability to save transcriptions locally, but now, Google’s finally adding the ability to search them by keyword. Google notes that even with the search feature, data is all based locally on your phone instead of on Google’s servers. Transcriptions are sent to the cloud “ephemerally to be processed” but aren’t kept.

Finally, Live Transcribe will let you set your name as a keyword that will vibrate the phone when it’s heard. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, it could allow others to get their attention.

Android’s Sound Amplify feature lets people use their phones to amplify and clarify audio. It’s not a replacement for a dedicated hearing aid, but it is still useful. Until now, it only worked with wired headphones, a fairly big problem in a world where few phones have a headphone jack anymore and it will finally support Bluetooth headphones.

Last but not least, Google Maps across both Android and iOS will give users the option to show wheelchair access right away when they search instead of making users tap into the location’s details. Maps still show multiple types of access, including the building itself, bathrooms, seating areas, and parking areas.

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

To send feedback about Action Blocks:

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

Note that 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.

Kamal Kaur

Kamal writes about new apps and user ratings. She joined us from India. She's also written for other tech blogs and forums before joining Pokies for Android. Kamal's real passion is nature and animals. She also writes poetry. Still waiting for her to write us a poem about Google Technology or Android devices.

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