How to Control Your Android Phone with Facial Expressions

Google is testing a new “Camera Key” option as part of the Android Accessibility Pack’s Key Access feature. Firstly reported The new Camera Switch option by Mishaal Rahman of XDA is live in Android Accessibility Pack 12.0. With this feature, you can control your Android phone with facial gestures, and in this article we will teach you how to do it.

Control Android Phone with Facial Expressions (2021)

Before we start, I would like to point out that the Switch Access feature is not limited to Android 12 phones. I sideloaded the latest beta of the Android Accessibility Pack on my ROG Phone 5 running Android 11 and it worked just fine. If you don’t see the Camera Switch option, download the APK file from: APKMirror or try updating from Play Store when Android Accessibility Pack becomes widely available.

Set Camera Keys Accessibility Service

1. Open the Settings app and Tap on ‘Accessibility’ Under Interaction controls to view accessibility settings, Tap on ‘Change Access’.

2. Next, Enable the ‘Use Key Access’ toggle to start. You will now see a popup requesting full control of your device to control the screen and perform actions. Tap ‘Allow’ to confirm and set the property.

allow key access control

3. After enabling Key Access, you will see the option to choose a key type and number of keys. Select ‘Camera Key’ as key type. You can choose to have one or two keys, but Google recommends using two keys to access more gestures.

select key type and number of keys

4. Now you have to choose how Switch Access will scan the content on your screen. The available options are Linear scan, Row-column scan and Group selection. Choose the method that suits you and then tap ‘Next’ in the lower right corner of the screen. On the next page, choose one of the facial gestures you want to use.

choose how gestures are scanned and assigned

5. For example, I set the ‘Smile’ gesture to open the Quick Settings panel. You can assign the gesture to other actions such as going to the home screen, going back, and more. You can follow the same steps to set up actions for other gestures (see image below or next section). If you change your mind, you can tap “Edit assignment” to reassign a gesture to a different action.

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set assignment for key access

Android 12 Accessibility Pack: Facial Gestures and Actions

To quickly recap, here are all the possible facial gestures in Switch Access and the camera switching actions you can assign to them:

Facial Gestures

  • open mouth
  • smile
  • look left
  • Lifting the Eyebrow
  • look right
  • To look

Camera Switch Actions

  • Pause Camera Switch
  • auto scan
  • Reverse auto scan
  • choose
  • Next
  • Pre
  • Tap and hold
  • scroll forward
  • scroll back
  • House
  • Back
  • Notifications
  • Quick Settings
  • overview

How to Use Camera Switch Actions on Android

Now that you have set up the camera switches on our Android phone and are familiar with all the possible facial gestures and actions you can use it for, here is a quick demonstration of the feature. In the GIF below, I used the ‘Open Mouth’ gesture to get back to the main screen.

Open Mouth action switch access

And here is another example where I use the ‘Smile’ gesture to open the Quick Settings panel. Although only demonstrations, you can mix and match actions and moves according to your preference.

smile gesture

Use Key Access to Control Your Android Phone

Which brings us to the end of our guide to using Switch Access to control your Android phone with facial expressions. If you try it, let us know if you found it helpful in the comments. If you’re a Mac owner, check out our articles on how to use the head pointer accessibility feature on Mac and show accessibility shortcuts in the menu bar and Control Center.