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How to control your Android phone with your eyes


Well, I’ll be: Just when we thought we’d uncovered all there is to know about Google’s almost-ready-for-prime-time Android 12 update, a futuristic new feature has snuck its way into the mix.

As spotted over the weekend, the latest Android 12 beta release includes an intriguing new capability that quite literally lets you control your phone with your eyes. A glance to the left, for instance, could take the place of the typical system-level Back gesture. A glance upward could open your notifications. And a coy-looking eyebrow raise could take you back to your home screen (as well as make anyone around you think you’re the most awkward person alive).

The possibilities only keep going from there. You could teach your Android phone to open your Quick Settings panel when you open your mouth, even, or to open the app-switching Overview interface whenever you flash a winning grin. (Just be sure to avoid using the system whilst eating deli meat, as all of the chomping and salami-induced smiling could really make your phone go bananas.)

This is some seriously wild stuff, and it works almost shockingly well. Most shocking of all, though, may be the fact that Google hasn’t so much as even mentioned the presence of this possibility in any public forum. It just kind of quietly showed up, with no real fanfare, announcement, or so much as a tiny hired monkey prancing around and clashing cymbals to alert us.

If you’re using the latest Android 12 beta, though, you can try out the system for yourself this very second. And if you aren’t, don’t get yourself into too much of a tizzy. The feature will probably make its way to your phone once the Android 12 software is officially finished and ready to roll out — something all signs suggest should happen any week now and certainly within the next month.

Now, one quick side note before we dive in: This new face gesture system is technically part of Android’s suite of accessibility services, and it’s easy to see why. A system like this could be invaluable for anyone with a condition that keeps them from having full movement and fine control of their arms, hands, and fingers. But like so many Android accessibility options, it’s every bit as impressive — and potentially even useful — for just about anyone.

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