Monday, 17 March 2014

Talking Tech for March 18th 2014

My Visit to the Local Apple Store last week

This is a copy of an email I wrote to Apple concerning my fantastic experience at the local Apple Store in Hornsby (Sydney) on March 12th (Thursday) 2014.

Some positive comments about my experiences with my first time as a customer at the local Apple retail store in Hornsby (Sydney) today and a suggestion on perhaps making the accessibility experience in the store that little bit better.

I made an appointment at the local Hornsby (Sydney) Apple Store to get my iPhone 5 looked at as it was having severe battery issues. I used the iOS Apple Store app to make the appointment which was extremely straight forward navigating with VoiceOver.

When I arrived at the store today, I was greeted promptly by name and shown to the Genius bar.

As I and my wife were slightly early, was checked in via another staff member whilst I waited to be seen. Within 5 or so minutes (earlier than my scheduled time) was seen promptly by a staff person who didn’t realise at first that I could not see, so a bit uncomfortable, but quickly moved on: i.e. he apologised for not seeing the cane and once he did was all ok.

iPhone 5 was diagnosed with a problem with the battery which would need to be replaced. Advised that this would take 1 hour and to come back with the $90 replacement fee being waved.Came back in 1 hour to learn that there were other issues with the iPhone 5, the side selector switch was also faulty. Was then offered a replacement iPhone 5, again for no charge. Accepted this kind offer, and another staff member assisted in the restore of my iCloud iPhone back up to the new replacement iPhone 5.

Whilst we were waiting for the restore to complete, my wife and I spent some time chatting to another staff member to whom we asked to look at what default accessibility options were enabled on the display equipment in the store. I explained that I was an accessibility consultant and that this was a great opportunity for me to see what customers would be accessing when they visited an Apple retail store.

The Apple TV had no accessibility short-cut setup via the menu button on the remote. Staff person had to manually enable speech which I could have done easily myself via the remote menu button.

The iPad and iPhone did not have the accessibility short-cut enabled via pressing the Home button 3 times. Again, a staff person had to activate VoiceOver manually: although I did explain that he could have quickly used Siri to turn on VoiceOver: which was something I could have done myself as well. Here I also wondered if the information on the iPads (for example info on the Apple TV) would have been accessible via VoiceOver, staff person was not sure and it wasn’t the time to start testing (smile).

Of course all the Macs were fine for activating VoiceOver via Command+F5 and pleasantly surprised that the default voice for Australia is now Karen and not Lee compressed (thank goodness). However, I did note that the default voice for the Apple TV was Lee compressed and sounded just as bad as it has always sounded (smile).

iPod nano did not have accessibility short-cut enabled via the Home button, and I did not check the shuffle or the iPod touch’s on display.

Was also pleased that the staff person we were dealing with had no hesitation in locating the accessibility options on any of the devices.

It just seems to me that there is a great opportunity for the store to have truly accessible display options available for customers, options which would not interfere with the “standard” running of any of the display equipment. I.e. menu button short-cut for the Apple TV, accessibility short-cut via Home button on iOS devices etc. In addition, being able to just “read” say the iPad display screen about the Apple TV would have been fantastic.

Once we finished our chat with the staff person that we sort of put through the accessibility question ringer (smile), my replacement iPhone was ready to go, and with several thank you’s to the various staff departed on our way.

A fantastic time spent at the store, and all the staff could not have been any more helpful.

I’d love to see some accessibility changes to the display equipment, but still a great experience.

iOS 7.1 VoiceOver Bluetooth Keyboard Editing Bug and Temporary Fix

Stumbled on this one last week, this is what I get for not beta testing this round: absolutely know idea that this was a problem.

If you use a Bluetooth keyboard with VoiceOver, navigation is fine, but you will find that random things happen when you start typing in to an edit field such as odd characters, spaces, newlines etc.

It seems to be very random, some users only get it now and again or like me, all the time.

Apparently Bluetooth Braille keyboards are fine.

A solution offered by Apple is to avoid pressing the Control key by itself (such as shutting VoiceOver off). When the bug appears, Control+Option (VO) plus Right Arrow to move out of the edit field, VO+Right Arrow back, repeat, and you can use the keyboard as before. Remember, just to stay away from pressing the control key by itself, and it only fix's the issue for the current editing session: so the bug will come back.

OziOS Email List

There is a great email list for folks in Australia (or anywhere for that matter) concerning the use of iOS for blind and low vision folks. The email list has currently over 180 members and is a great resource to learn and help others.

To subscribe to the list send a blank email to: ozios-subscribe@damorris.com

Samsung Releases 3 Assistive Technology Accessories for the Galaxy Core Advanced - Samsung Mobile Press Release

Last week, Samsung released 3 new assistive technology accessories for the blind for use on the Galaxy Core Advanced (phone): the Ultrasonic Cover, Optical Scan Stand, and Voice Label.

These Accessories are available, sold separately and according to Samsung, will be made available to other Samsung phones in the future.

I did notice on the specs for the Galaxy Core Advanced, that it was running Android 4.2 (not 4.4) which has the more advanced screen reading and screen magnification options.

AccessWorld for March 2014

In the March issue of AccessWorld some interesting articles were covered including: Accessibility of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, evaluating Mobile Accessibility on Windows Phone, and a review of Chromecast: amongst other stories.

CSUN 2014 Session Outline Wed 19 to Sat 22

With CSUN starting in the US on Wednesday March 19th, I've put in the link for the sessions being help, and links to the iOS and Android iBlink Radio app from Serotek who will be covering the conference.

CSUN 2014 Session Outline
iBlink Radio for iOS
iBlink Radio for Android

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