Android offers several system-level accessibility features catering to people with various disabilities. Utilities like TalkBack, Live Transcribe, and color correction adjustments for the visually impaired often go unnoticed. High contrast text is another such tool, but Google is silently working to improve how the feature works with Material You dynamic theming. We saw evidence of this a week ago, and it is now in the latest version of Android 14.
The current high-contrast text implementation in Android 13 adds a white outline to black text and a black one to white text, improving legibility against backgrounds with inadequate contrast. Longtime Android feature researcher Mishaal Rahman says Android 14 DP2 has a new Contrast level slider under Settings -> Accessibility -> Color and motion.
This slider has three levels of adjustment — Standard, Medium, and High. Google explains that as you crank the Contrast level higher, the system takes the lightness of the text farther and farther away from the background colors, boosting relative contrast and readability. However, Rahman also notes the colors without backgrounds don’t change in tone when the Contrast level slider is adjusted.
From a technical standpoint, the Android SystemUI’s ThemeOverlayController class reads the color contrast slider value set at 0, 0.5, or 1, and creates a dynamic color scheme for Material You dynamic theming. Android replaces the Monet theming engine’s original colors picked from the active wallpaper with slightly more contrasty tones to aid readability. A complete list of the tones replacing specific colors is already available for Android app developers.
With this change already showing up in the Android 14 Developer Preview, it is likely Google will include it in the stable build later this year. Thanks to this feature, people reliant on the high-contrast text accessibility option won’t lose out on the cool dynamic theming look. It also means accessibility options won’t be as obvious when enabled, blending in better with the regular UI. It’s a win-win all around, and we can’t wait to see it in action when the public beta builds start rolling out.
UPDATE: 2023/04/13 17:09 EST BY STEPHEN SCHENCK
Gone in Android 14 Beta 1
As Google prepares Android 14 for public release, the first Android 14 Beta has arrived, but with it, the contrast slider is no longer visible. We'll have to wait and see if it gets added back during one of the upcoming beta release.