Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Talking Tech for 21 October 2014

Apple News


In the Apple event last week,Apple Announced iPad 2 air, iPad mini 3, iMac 5k, OS X Yosemite release, iOS 8.1 to be available as Oct 21 in Australia (today) which includes Apple pay (for US only) and other bug fixes and improvements.


Will go more in to the Apple announcements in next weeks show.


Apple and Android Apps Highlighted at Vision Australia Texpo 2014


At the recently held Vision Australia Texpos held in Sydney and Melbourne, the App Fantastic workshop highlighted a number of Apple and Android apps for use by people who are blind or or have low vision.


The apps that were highlighted have been put up on the Vision Australia Adaptive Technology Blog page which can be accessed with the following links for both Apple and Android:


Android Highlighted Apps



Apple Highlighted Apps



Monday, 13 October 2014

Talking Tech for October 14 2014

In this weeks show, spending some time talking about android accessibility as I did a presentation on it at the recent BCA NSW/ACT state conference in Newcastle and will be presenting on it again at the Vision Australia texpo in Sydney this Friday.


Next weeks program I will be talking about the Android and Apple apps that were highlighted at both the Melbourne and Sydney VA Texpos.


Android accessibility includes:



Screen reader: Talkback: supporting Braille displays via BrailleBack, and general Bluetooth keyboard navigation: i.e. no specific Talkback commands.
Low vision: magnification, large text,
Hearing: Closed Captions.
General: auto rotate screen, speak passwords, accessibility shortcut, and text to speech output control.
´On phone, ability to set the power/sleep button to hang up call.

No other accessibility options such as with iOS with assistive touch, switch control etc.

All accessibility settings in Settings, Accessibility. NB to find accessibility, remember to scroll down to bottom of the Settings screen.
Android does not have toggle function for quicly turning accessibility features on or off as with iOS.

Some general usage comments

1. Various manufactures of Android devices such as Samsung, LG, HTC, Amazon etc.
2. Can get different versions of Android on different hardware or different on same hardware depending on manufacturer update schedule.
3. Google itself produces its own range of Android devices which are the first to be updated: hence why ATCS at VA have Nexus 7 tablets.
4. Recommend that users try and get a phone or tablet with at least 4.21: i.e. 4.21 introduced magnification settings. Current version is 4.4.
5. Recommending that the Samsung range of phones and tablets is the best way to go for most users. Eg S5 has triple click for turning Talkback on or off, and user experience seems to be a lot more stable.
6. Google Now is not as good as Siri for speech users: eg asking Google Now “where am I?” results in a map not, telling you where you are in the case of Siri. SVoice may be as good as Siri, have not yet verified this.
7. When purchasing apps from the Play Store, you can return it within 15 minutes (i.e. uninstalling it) and receive a refund if the app was not free.
8. Using the Play Store to purchase music, books, movies et is all accessible particularly with Talkback.
9. Home button at middle bottom of screen is your friend, plus apps button directly above this when at a home screen to easily locate apps or scroll between app screens. Always have Back, Home, and recent apps at bottom of all screens.
10. Can get Eloquence as a software synthesiser. Other synthesizers are widely available including Acapela.
11. Can use Talkback with a BT keyboard and Braille display. NB no Talkback commands are assigned to the Bt keyboard as with Voiceover on iOS.
12. Oddly, on the Nexus 7, Talkback does not tell you when the unit is charging, only the charge percentage. The Kindle Fire hd on the other hand with Talkback does report if the unit is plugged in and charging.
13. Using Alt-tab on a Bluetooth keyboard switch’s between recent apps. Start typing an app name with the BT keyboard to locate an app.
14. Main difference between navigating with Braille on the home screens with Talkback as with iOS, is that all icons are shown on the Braille line and you have to locate the icon that is shown with dots 7 8flashing underneath. Some Talkback commands are used with the Braille display. No UEB at this time.
15. Overall Android absolutely ok for low vision users, still not as good for speech users as with iOS.
16. Good starting web address is:

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Talking Tech for October 7 2014

A couple of quick announcements, and then an overview of the Vision Australia Texpo.

World Sight Day October 9 2014.

See what Vision 2020 is doing for World Sight Day on October 9, and catch the World Sight Day National Press Club address on the 8th of October via ABC Streaming 12:30PM ESD.

Vision 2020 Australia World Sight Day October 9 2014


ABC 24 Streaming



World White Cane Day October 15.

See how Vision Australia is celebrating International White Cane Day in:







Presentation at the BCA Computer Users Group: a comparison between Apple and Android.

On Wednesday at 1PM I will be giving a talk on comparing Apple iOS accessibility to Android Accessibility.

For further information about this meeting or the Computer Users Group in general please email Branch Secretary, Adam Morris:

Presentations at the BCA NSW/ACT State Conference

On Saturday the 11th of October I will be giving two presentations at the BCA NSW/ACT State Conference: one on Apple devices, and the other on using Android devices.


Texpo - Melbourne 10-11 and Sydney 17-18 October 2014

Texpo show cases Vision Australia services, assistive technology exhibitors, talks on finding out about assistive technology including Apple, and Android devices, and product specials to save money whilst visiting texpo.

Simulated office, classroom and kitchen will be on show as well, including a place to watch audio described movies.

Exhibitors at Texpo 2014, Melbourne

1. Optek Systems

2. Oricom
Special offer: Visit Texpo 2014 for your chance to win 1 of 6 Care60 phones.

3. Quantum - Reading learning Vision
Special offer: choose between a free minimax hand held CCTV with any purchase of a desktop CCTC or 10% discount across the product range for orders placed at Texpo.

4. Visitech Magnifiers

5. Pacific Vision International Australia) Pty Ltd

6. Australian Lions Visual Independence Foundation Inc
Special offer: Purchase a Kaptan Plus GPS device at a special price of $100, marked down from $700.

7. Sight Management Pty Ltd

8. Beonlight

9. Blind Citizens Australia

10. Real Thing – RealSAM
Special offer: Visit the Real Thing stand at Texpo to purchase a RealSAM device at a special price of $199, a discount of $100 off the retail price.

11. Glassbrick

12. Optelec

13. KISA

14. Own Fone Australia
Special offer: Receive a voucher code for a 10% discount off all OwnFone handsets.

14.. HumanWare
Special offer: Receive a 5% discount on any product ordered at Texpo and a 10% discount and free deluxe leather case worth $77 with the purchase of a new generation Victor Reader Stream during the Texpo period: 9-17 October.

Seminars on Friday

Your library, anywhere, anytime

Introduction to adaptive technology, hardware and software (Entry level)

App fantastic – the latest apps for daily living (intermediate to advanced)

Accessible Android devices

Latest Apple devices and IOS8 accessibility features

Seminars on Saturday

Your library, anywhere, anytime

Introduction to adaptive technology, hardware and software (Entry level)

Latest Apple devices and IOS8 accessibility features

Accessible Android devices

Equipment Solutions Shop Specials

1. Zoomax Aurora HD + free handheld video magnifier
The cheapest 24” Widescreen Desktop Video Magnifier with movable screen and high definition technology.
When you purchase a Zoomax Aurora HD ($2599) you will receive a free Zoomax Snow handheld video magnifier (valued at $475.00)
Available while stock lasts.

2. ScanBox+
Paper thin portable scanner for your smartphone.
Scanbox is made of durable, laminated card that folds to create a stand for your phone similar to a lightbox used for photography. Once set up, the phone sits on top at the correct height to scan any object that fits in the box. Used in conjunction with apps such as Prizmo, TextGrabber or KNFB Reader. Attach a 9V battery and this will power the LED lights. Was $55 now $20.
Available while stock lasts.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Talking Tech for September 30 2014

Using Home Plus Power or just Power on your IOS device


Last episode I mentioned that if an app got stuck on your iOS device (iPhone, iPod touch or iPad) you could use Home plus Power to reboot your device.  Whilst this does work, it really should only be used as a last ditch method as it is much lie cold booting your computer.  


Adam Morris who runs the iOS Mailing List from Australia, reminded me that it is probably safer in the long run to try and Power off your iOS device from the Power button and turn it back on again first.  If this fails, try the Home plus Power button combination. 

World Site Day and Eye Health Heroes


Vision 2020 Australia is hosting a number of events surrounding World Site Day coming up on the 9th of October including a Talk at the National Press Club on the 8th of October, and a dinner at parliament house Canberra 30th of September to celebrate Eye Health Heroes in the research and prevention of blindness but also for those who support people who are blind or vision impaired in the community.


I will be attending the parliamentary dinner as a hero representing Vision Australia sharing our positive stories in relation to gaining access to technology and information.


For more information, go to:




Talking Tech is now on iTunes:


You can now subscribe to Talking Tech via iTunes at:




Talking Vision also Available from iTunes


Another popular program from Vision Australia is also available from iTunes: Talking Vision:




Just Under Two Weeks for Vision Australia Texpo in Melbourne (Kooyong)


A reminder that Vision Australia Texpo is coming up on the 10th and 11th of October to be held at Vision Australia Kooyong from 10-4 Friday and 10-3 Saturday.


This will be followed by Vision Australia Texpo Sydney the following week on the 17th and 18th of October.


More information to be had at:




Learning to Touch Type: an Online Downloadable Resource from Vision Australia


These set of 23 mp3 files are available for anyone to download who wish’s to learn how to touch type.  Rather than having to get access to a typing training program, just download and listen to these MP3 files.


These mp3 files are located at:




JAWS 16 Beta


The public beta version of JAWS 16 has been available for a few weeks.


Some of the new features include:

Command Search,

JAWS Standard changing to JAWS Home Addition which will now work on both Windows Home and Professional,

Semi Auto Forms Mode,

Convenient OCR for PDF documents,

improved performance for Microsoft Word 2013,

Enhanced  language support in voice profiles,

JAWS discontinues support for Windows XP (only Vista and above support),

Windows 8.1 Reading List app support,

Windows 8.1 People app support,

New touch screen gesture for unloading JAWS, and

Improve JAWS recovery.


To get more info and to listen to FSCast go through the new features in JAWS 16, go to:



Other Screen reading Options for Windows


Window-Eyes For Office


If you have Microsoft Office 2010 or 2013 installed, you can get a free copy of Window-Eyes, rather than having to pay full price:




NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access) is also Available to Windows Users


NVDA is a free (donations welcome) screen reader for Windows which can be installed on a PC or on a UsB stick.


For more information or to download a copy of NVDA, go to:



Talking Tech for September 22 2014

Some of the general, Settings, Siri, and accessibility features that you will find in iOS 8.


General Features


1. Lock screen Notifications: 

Can do more with items on your lock screen: e.g. reply to a message, Facebook, Twitter etc by flicking up.

2. Notifications Centre now has today and Notifications tabs.

3. On the Home screen, clock now displays the time.

4. Recent contacts from the App switcher:

Allows you to quickly contact your recent contacts.

5. Word prediction:

When you are typing, iOS will now give you a list of word predictions to choose from when you are typing in to an edit field such as typing in to Notes.

6. Maps: adjust the tracking options in Maps to give you more details and the next cross street.

7. Send an audio message via Messages.

Hold up to your ear, wait for ding, speak, and then put phone down to send.

8. The Weather app now gives you more information concerning daily information.  The app also uses the Weather channel.

9. FaceTime: new look:

Separates video from Audio calls.

10. Go to desktop version of a webpage in Safari:

Go to right of address and select desktop site.

11. Hand off.

Hand off what you are doing on one device to another such as Mail etc.

12. New apps: the tips app and the Health app.

iBooks and Podcasts get installed by default now.





1. Battery usage: tell what apps are draining your battery.

Settings, Usage, Battery usage.

2. Settings, iCloud, iCloud drive

Contains list of apps that are using the iCloud drive.

3. Last known Location:

Settings, General, iCloud, Find My iPhone, send last location:

If battery goes dead, you will be able to find your iPhone where the battery went dead.

Can turn cellular use of iCloud drive off.

4. Settings, Safari: choose search engine: i.e. DuckDuckGo so that your search’s will not be traced.

5. Message history:

Settings, Messages, Message history, keep message for: 30 days, 1 year or forever.

6. in Settings for each app: you have iPhone settings, and the actual app settings.

7. Settings: Privacy: each app can now - allow location access: never, or only while using the app.




1. Settings, Siri: voice activation on.

Uses “hay Siri” when on power.

2. Using Siri to identify music:

Identify this song.

3. Using Siri to find and download an app:

“Download Downcast”.








1. Braille keyboard: turned on in Settings, General, Accessibility, VoiceOver, Rotor, Braille keyboard.

Use the rotor to access the Braille keyboard in the same way you access the hand writing mode.

2. Braille display option: Settings, General, Accessibility, VoiceOver, Braille: Turn pages when panning, separate Braille display output, Braille display input, and Braille screen input.

3. Direct typing mode accessed via the rotor when in an edit field.

4. Alex Voice available for the iPhone 5s and above.

Within Speech/dialects/English voices, you can select Alex.  Just a warning it is a very large file: close to 900mb.

5. Audio ducking now available to toggle on or off from the rotor: Settings, General, Accessibility, VoiceOver, rotor.


Other accessibility changes


1. New Zoom options:

Follow focus toggle,

Zoom keyboard toggle,

Show controller toggle,

Zoom region (window, full screen or lens), and

Maximum zoom.

3. Gray scale toggle.

4. Buttons shapes toggle.

5. Speech: Speak screen toggle: swipe two fingers down from the top of the screen.

6. Increase contrast:

Reduce transparency,

Darken colours, and

Reduce white point.

7. Now under media we have:

sub titles and captioning, and

Video description.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Talking Tech for September 16 2014

Apple Keynote for September 9 2014 

Apple mentioned 5 items in their September 9 2014 keynote announcement:

iPhone and iPhone Plus,

Apple Pay,,

The release date for iOS 8,

Apple Watch, &

U2 did an album release on the iTunes Store.


There was one extra thing which happened very quietly, this was the discontinuation of the iPod classic, leaving the nano, and the iOS range now with all lightning cables: except for the iPod shuffle of course with the 3.5 connector


If you want to listen to the Apple September 9 keynote, here is the link:




iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus


iPhone 6 from $869 and iPhone plus from $999.


I have ordered the iPhone 6 plus 128GB due to turn up on either the 19th (Friday) or 22nd (Monday) of September.  I also ordered the iPhone Plus leather case.


By the way, Apple sold 4 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the first 24 hours.





4.7 and 5.5 inch displays.

Silver, gold, and space grey.

16, 64 & 128GB.

a8 chip and the new M8 chip.

6.9 or 7.1MM thin.

High resolution screen.

50 or 80 hours of audio.

Standby: up to10 or 16 days.

8MP camera with new sensor and other improvements.


Supports VOLTE and wifi calling.

With the larger screen, Apple has utilised the extra space to fit more stuff on the screen with the default iOS apps.

New Reachability function by tapping twice on Home button to scroll the screen down to reach higher items on the screen with your thumb: i.e. one handed mode with the larger screen.

Another feature to encourage one handed operation was the physical relocation of the Power/Sleep button from the top of the phone to the right hand side.


iPhone 6 and 6 plus was available to order Sep 12, and shipping September 19.


iPhone 5S now with 16 or 32GB from $749.

iPhone 5c: 8GB $529





iOS 8


iOS 8 available 17 September.


I will be talking more about iOS 8 and its new features next week after it is officially released.


Interestingly, whilst iOS 8 was talked about, no mention was made of Yosemite (OS X 10.10) particularly in relation to hand off.




Apple Pay with NFC


fast, secure and private: starting off in the US.  Can also use it online.

Works with a secure chip in the iPhone Six or iPhone Plus together with touch id and passbook.

Just hold your finger on the touch ID, and a vibration and a discrete beep will announce that you have paid successfully.


This will be a lot more secure particularly with the current use of credit cards and contact payment options where you can just tap your card and under a certain amount (such as $100 in Pet Barn for example) you don’t even have to use your pin.  Consequently, if someone stole your card, they could quite happily make these types of purchases.  With Apple Pay, it is all bit around your finger print.

Starting off in the US in October.




Apple Watch




2 watch sizes:

3.8 or 4.2 thickness.

Square or rectangular shape with rounded edges..


3 models:

Apple Watch:

Stainless Steel or space black stainless steel cases.

A range of stylish bands.


Apple watch sport:

Anodised aluminium cases in silver or space grey. Strengthened Ion-X glass. Colourful  durable bands


Apple Watch Edition:

18-karat gold cases in yellow or rose. Sapphire crystal. Exquisitely crafted bands and closures


Uses the crown of the watch (the winder on old watch’s) for digital navigation, plus can determine the difference between a tap or press.

Precise time keeping.

Personalise watch faces.

Similar clock app functions: stop watch, timer, world clock etc.

Ping your iPhone to determine its location.

Hand over to your iPhone such as writing a Mail msg on your Apple Watch and then finishing it off on the iPhone.

Sends notifications and alerts including by tactile feedback on your wrist.

Runs its own apps, and there is an Apple Watch SDK for developers.

Health and fitness device.

Press a button on the crown to bring up a list of your closest friends and easily send them a message etc.

Answer a call on the watch and then transfer to the iPhone, car system or Bluetooth.

Silence an incoming call by putting your hand over the Apple watch.

For fun, use the builtin walkie talkie to talk to other Apple watch users send them a drawing or send them a tactile tap to let them know your thinking about them: you can also send your heart beat by holding 2 fingers down on the screen.

Will work with the iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, iPhone six, and iPhone plus.

Works with Apple Pay and passbook.

Play your music on the Apple Watch or on your iPhone and control your Apple TV.

Has common apps to that of the iPhone including Calendar, Weather, and Maps.   Nice feature with Maps is that the Apple Watch will vibrate to tell you which way to turn: i.e. different tactile feedback for left or right turn.  

Doubles as a remote for the Eyesight camera.

Mag Safe Charging.

Internal water resistant speaker.


Voice dictation.


Available in early 2015 starting at US $354




U2 Album Release


The album that U2 Launched on the iTunes Store: Songs of Innocence: will be available for free to all iTunes customers from the 9th of September through to October 13 2014.


iPod Classic Discontinued


After 13 years, the iPod Classic finally got quietly retired.  This makes all of the portable Apple products accessible, and most using the lightening connector (besides the 3.5mm port on the iPod shuffle).

Monday, 8 September 2014

Talking Tech for September 9 2014

How To Pause Music Or Podcasts on the iPhone Without Touching The Screen


This is a very simple tip but sometimes forgotten, if you have your head phones plugged in to your iOS device or an audio cable going to your car stereo, just pulling out the cable will stop your music or podcast playing.




How To Get Your iPhone Or iPad Ready for iOS 8


These tips are quite good if you are thinking of updating to iOS 8: check your device compatibility, free up some storage space (usually updates require at least 3GB of space free), check for current OS or app updates and update, backup your device, and particularly if you have an iPhones 4s or iPad 2, hold off for a few weeks to see how other folks are going running iOS 8.




Majority Of Time Taken Up on Digital Apps On Mobile


At least from my experience, I spend a lot more time using the apps on my iPhone, than I do using the desktop.




The Everyday Tasks That Your Phone Does Better Than Your Computer


I agree with this article and certainly use my iPhone for all of them: checking email, banking, reminders, searching google, and reading through your news feeds.




A Guide To Using Twitter:


This is an excellent article on introducing new users to Twitter and explains a lot of the functionality in simple terms.




30 Days With Android


Marco blogs his experience of using Android for 30 days, lasting 18 days with some interesting observations.




Accessibility Head to Head - Apple Verses Android


A neutral discussion of Apple verses android in respect to blind or low vision usage.




Are Smart Phone Users Loosing Their Appetite for New Apps


This article mainly points out that most people are satisfied with the apps they have, and see know need to change/purchase another app that does the same thing.