Pre-release notes of the Apple watch looking at accessibility
When I spent a few hours with the Apple watch on April 8th 2015, I jotted down notes about the Apple watch’s physical description, general overall points, low vision and speech features, hearing, Siri, and Apple watch functions I am most looking forward to using.
At the end of this document, I have included a summary from Apple in regards to the Apple watch accessibility features
Some initial points
In a recent podcast of mine looking at the click wheel on the iPod nano 4/5th generations, and the touch screen access on the iPod nano 6/7th generations, VoiceOver access on the Apple watch has far exceeded my expectations.
It is important to note that the Apple watch is a companion to the iPhone and is designed to work in conjunction with the phone.
This is the first truly accessible main stream smart watch for people who require various types of accessibility options such as large print, speech output, mono audio etc.
When the Apple watch is available for pre-order on April 10 2015 (online or via the Apple Store app), you will be able to make an appointment at an Apple store to look at the different Apple watch’s and associated bands to sort out which combination is wright for you. In addition, you will be able to discuss various features of the Apple watch. Once the watch's are shipped on the 24th of April, you can either get online or in store assistance to personalise and setup your Apple watch.
Now on to my notes:
Physical description of the Apple watch:
1. The Apple watch is Rectangular in shape with rounded edges.
2. With the Apple watch on your left wrist, holding your arm in front of you:
Right edge: round Digital crown at top, and oval side (friends) button at bottom.
left edge: across from the digital crown: speaker, and across from the “Friends” button: microphone.
Top face: touch screen with the screen ending at the curved sides.
Back face: raised convex housing in the middle which contains the magnetic charger plus the sensors. Two pin holes on either side near where the bands connect to allow the bands to be detached by pressing in on them. I.e. the bands fill like they have slotted in to the Apple watch rather than being attached on either side by band pins.
1. During my brief play with the Apple watch, I did not have the opportunity to set the watch up itself: either using the Apple watch and the Apple watch app on the iPhone. In addition, I was more looking at the low vision and VoiceOver experience when navigating the interface, rather than using the apps which are accessible.
2. The Apple watch feels very very nice in the hand, like a smooth square peace of glass.
3. The Digital crown was extremely easy to turn/press, and the friends button just as easy to press. The digital crown does not click when turned, but has a very smooth action. The digital crown itself is bevelled. In actual fact, rather than turning the digital crown around with two fingers, I just found myself using one finger on top of the digital crown to move it.
4. Easy to connect the magnetic charger to the Apple watch. The side of the charger that connects to the Apple watch has an indented edge and the magnet moves the connection to the correct place. Not a hard connection click, quite gentle.
5. I only had an opportunity to look at the leather loop band and the rubber band. The leather loop band felt quite nice, but had some difficulty in doing it up due to the fact that I had to put it on my wrist and then do it up. The rubber band wasn’t a problem putting on as with the leather loop as it was more a point of sliding the band through to get to a point where you could put the pin through, and then tuck it in to the slot on the band to hide the end.
6. The touch screen of the watch is the full face of the watch and stops as you come to the curve around the edges: very easy to identify, and certainly had no problems using gestures on the face of the watch. i.e. didn’t go off the edges when using gestures.
7. Much preferred the wait of the Apple watch over the Apple Sports. The sports is quite a bit lighter. I just prefer a bit of weight on my wrist.
8. As far as using the glass surface on either the Sports or the Apple watch, it didn’t really make any difference in performing gestures.
9. For me, the 42 millimetres Apple watch was a good size, and did not feel to big on my wrist. You can tell the size difference between the 38 and the 42. It may be better for low vision folks to perhaps use the 42..
10. If you take the Apple watch off your wrist and put it back on again, you have to enter in a security pin on an on-screen keyboard.
11. When the watch screen locks after 5 seconds, a gentle bleep sound can be heard.
12. To unlock the watch screen, tap the screen, move your wrist or press the digital crown. This will make the clock face appear (and if VoiceOver is on, speak the time). Pressing the digital crown again will bring up the app screen.
13. Just in case your worried, no the watch will not speak after you wake it up unless you actually touch the screen with a finger.
14. Pressing the digital crown twice will switch the user between the app screen and the last app used.
15. Apple watch alarm function can do vibration only, not just sound/vibration if you mute sound. This is a great feature as I currently use a silent vibrating alarm on my iPhone so I don’t wake up my partner.
16. There is no “home click speed” as found on the iPhone to adjust the rate of press of the digital crown. This would be useful for those folks who may have trouble pressing the digital crown twice or 3 times within the default time period.
17. Taptic feedback felt fine, not to hard or soft: discrete.
18. I Was able to pair the Apple watch to my JamBox speaker, but not to my current Beats Wireless headset: I’m assuming that the firmware needs to be updated. In fact, writing these notes the day after the demo play, it was confirmed that the Apple watch works with the current beats wireless headsets.
19. You can enable VoiceOver or Zoom when setting up the Apple watch via triple pressing the digital crown for VoiceOver or two finger double tap on the watch screen for Zoom..
20. VoiceOver or Zoom can also be toggled on via the Apple watch app, but advisable to turn it on via the watch during the setup process.
21. You can tell what accessibility options are on within the Apple watch app, and course toggle them on or off.
22. On the Apple watch itself within the Settings panel, you can turn on VoiceOver, Zoom, reduce motion, and on/off labels.
23. The Apple watch app has lots of functionality once watch is paired. To access accessibility, General, Accessibility. Using the Apple watch app felt much like you using the Settings screens on the iPhone. Of course fully accessible with VoiceOver.
24. On the Apple watch app, have more accessibility options to work with: grey scale, transparency, bolded text, mono audio, stereo balance, and the access short-cut (besides VoiceOver and Zoom of course).
Points on vision related features:
1. Zoom can be activated by triple pressing the digital crown as set up by the watch app. During setup, two finger double tap on watch screen to activate Zoom.
2. Zoom comes on at 500%, and can go up to 1500%.
3. Zoom can be also toggled on and off by two finger double tap.
4. Zoom magnification adjusted by two finger double tap and hold, then drag up or down to adjust magnification.
5. When Zoom turned on, can drag two fingers around the screen to pan the screen or you can use the digital crown to move across and down the screen in a grid pattern.
6. Not in the accessibility setting screen, but can access dynamic text.
7. One of the clock faces is X-Large for large numbers for the time.
8. Whilst the background can not be changed, the foreground colour can be modified.
9. Don’t forget as well: grey scale, transparency, reduce motion, bolded text, and on/off labels.
Points on speech related features:
1. VoiceOver can be activated by triple pressing the digital crown.
2. When you turn on VoiceOver via a triple press of the digital crown, VoiceOver takes about 3 seconds to come on. When turning VoiceOver off via the triple press of the digital crown, VoiceOver turns off immediately. Good to note here that the Apple watch is a watch, not a full blown iOs device.
3. As on the iPhone, using VoiceOver was very responsive on the Apple watch: no lagging when using gestures.
4. Basic navigation of VoiceOver on the Apple watch: 1 finger flick left or right to move by item,, 1 finger drag around screen, 1 finger double tap on an item to activate, two finger flick back to the left to move back to the previous screen (of course you can press the digital crown to go back to the app screen), 2 finger double tap and hold/drag up or down to adjust volume, and 1 finger flick up or down adjust options within an app. You can also do a two finger split tap if you need to. Scrolling the digital crown does not appear to affect VoiceOver.
5. To perform a deep press, 1 finger tap and hold: brings up clock faces (when on the clock face) or additional controls within an app.
6. When at the Clock face, two finger flick down for Notifications, and two finger flick up for Glances.
7. VoiceOver on the Apple watch does not have any three or four finger gestures, and there is no rotor function.
8. The default speech rate that voiceOver came on with on the Apple watch was a comfortable speech rate. The speech rate can be changed in VoiceOver settings via the Apple watch app.
9. VoiceOver does duck music and other sounds.
10. VoiceOver on the watch does have screen curtain. However, it is not activated by a gesture, but can be toggle on or off via the Apple watch app on the iPhone.
11. VoiceOver supports 14 languages, and has US Samantha, UK Daniel, and Australian Karen. They appear to be the full enhanced versions of the software synthesisers. Us Alex is not available.
12. If you take the watch off/put it back on again the pin number keypad appears: with the pin code on the watch to unlock, VoiceOver is in standard typing mode: i.e. 1 finger double tap on each of the keypad numbers.
13. When waking up watch from pressing the digital crown or touching the watch screen, VoiceOver will speak the time. Pressing the digital crown again will take user to the apps screen.
14. Volume of the watch is reasonably loud in a quiet room, suggest Bluetooth head phones for out and about use.
15. VoiceOver on the Apple watch does not support the use of refreshable Braille display as this is seen as being part of the iPhone Braille support.
16. All of the inbuilt apps in the watch are fully accessible, including the Activity and Workout apps. As this is a full version of VoiceOver with its gesture set modified for the watch, accessibility to other apps will depend on how they are developed as it does on the iPhone. I.e. this is not just text to speech on the watch, its VoiceOver.
17. There are VoiceOver sounds as with VoiceOver on the iPhone. I found these more noticeable when using VoiceOver through a Bluetooth head set or speaker.
18. Using the watch with VoiceOver felt very much like using VoiceOver on the iPhone. .
Points relating to hearing:
The Apple watch supports:
1. Mono audio., and
2. Left/right stereo balance.
Points relating to Siri:
We might all remember the Siri demo held earlier this year where Siri did not speak. This is still the case, Siri only displays text on the screen. However, if your using VoiceOver, this text will be read out loud.
1. You can use Siri to turn VoiceOver on or off, and launch apps.
2. When you raise your wrist, you can say “hay Siri” followed by your instruction.
3. As with the iPhone with the Home button, you can hold in the digital crown and give Siri instructions.
4. You can use Siri to dictate emails or messages.
5. Sometimes I noticed that VoiceOver would not speak the resulting text from Siri automatically, I had to use VoiceOver gestures to read the text.
The Apple watch functions I am most looking forward to using:
1. Conveniently being able to check notifications from Mail, Calendar, Messages, and Twitter.
2. As I already use FaceTime calling on my Mac from my iPhone, it seems a simple extension to have this same functionality on the Apple watch.
3. Being able to pick up calls on the Apple watch rather than on my Mac or iPhone is again going to be very handy. I.e. I don’t have to go back to the iPhone or Mac to answer a call, particularly if I’m gardening or washing the car.
4. As I usually have my iPhone plugged in to my Mac via the lightening cable for charging, use the iPhone as a personal hotspot, and use “hay Siri” because the iPhone is powered, it again seems natural to expect the “Hay Siri” hands free functionality on the Apple watch by just raising my wrist.
5. I use GPS a fair bit on my iPhone, and I am very curious to use the haptic feedback on the Apple watch maps for turn by turn directions.
6. As I work in a several story building, my partner has to either ring me or iMessage me when she is approaching so that I can meet her down stairs on the street just in case she can’t get a parking spot. With haptic vibrating taps on the Apple watch, she can just notify me as it were, which will be a lot more convenient particularly if I am on the phone, which being on a help desk is most of the time. Oh and yes, she will be getting an Apple watch as well.
7. My partner and I some times have to let each other know that we’re running out of time to do something: e.g. get off the phone we have to go: being able to send different haptic vibrating taps I’m assuming is going to be a lot more polite (smile).
8. This is one thing which my Fitbit flex doesn’t do for me, let me know when I’ve been sitting for to long and its time to move a bit,this is exactly what the Activity app will do, and make my work day that bit healthier.
9. Speaking of the Fitbit flex, I won’t have to weir two devices any more: my iPod nano and the Fitbit Flex: just the Apple watch.
10. Being able to control my Apple tv from the Remote app on the Apple watch is going to be great. Rather than having to grab my iPhone or worse, find where my boys have dropped/hidden the physical Apple remote.
11. For the last several years I have been using my iPod nano 6th generation as a watch with wired ear phones. besides getting a much more stylish device on my wrist, I can do away with the wired ear phones and use Bluetooth ear phones instead: i.e. my bone conduction head phones or my Beats Wireless head phones: much safer.
12. As I do most of the cooking in my family, I use the timer function in Siri to time how long things have to cook, and for items that have to be put on so I can arrive with everything being cooked at the same time, I often have to check how the timer is going. I either have to have my iPhone plugged in to use Siri or hold down the Home button to use Siri, which if you been cooking, can be a bit messy. With the Apple watch, I can just hold up my wrist and ask away.
13. As both of my boys are on medication, I have reminders on my iPhone to make sure that they take their medication throughout the day. Sometimes if we go swimming etc, I usually leave my iPhone in the car for safety, and then usually forget about the medication. Having the Apple watch on the spot as it were, will again be helpful.
Just for the record, I’m pre-ordering the Apple watch 42 millimetres with the light brown leather loop.
To sum up: Apple’s information on these accessibility features in the Apple watch:
To round things off, here is information from Apple concerning the accessibility options in the Apple watch:
•Apple Watch is our most personal device yet, and is designed with accessibility in mind.
•Apple Watch includes industry leading features such as VoiceOver, Zoom, Larger Dynamic Type, Bold Text, Grayscale, Reduce Motion, Reduce Transparency, On/Off Labels, and Mono Audio.
•Each aspect engineered to make it the best choice for those with a range of accessibility needs.
•Apple Watch is accessible right out of the box - you can immediately use VoiceOver and Zoom during initial set up —triple-click the Digital Crown to use VoiceOver or ask Siri, double-tap with two fingers to Zoom.
• Extra large watch face: Apple Watch comes with an option for an extra large watch face with numbers that take up the entire screen making it easier to view the time.
• Font adjustments: When you activate Larger Dynamic Type, text inside a range of apps including Mail, Messages and Settings, is converted to a larger size to make it easier to read. You can also choose Bold Text to make the text heavier across all built‑in apps.
• VoiceOver: Apple revolutionised the mobile device market for the blind by making touch screens accessible through VoiceOver on iOS. VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader that tells you everything that’s happening on the screen and helps you navigate it — even if you can’t see it. VoiceOver on Apple Watch is compatible with built-in apps and is available in all 14 supported languages. (You can turn it on via the Apple Watch or the Watch app on iPhone, using the accessibility shortcut, or just ask Siri on the Apple Watch to do it for you).
• Zoom: is a built-in magnifier that works wherever you are in Apple Watch. Use the Digital Crown to go across the screen by rows or use two fingers to move around the screen. With magnification up to 15 times the native size, Zoom helps you enjoy all that Apple Watch has to offer. (You can turn it on via the Apple Watch or the Watch App on iPhone, or using the Accessibility Shortcut).
• Grayscale: If your vision is impaired by colour, Apple Watch lets you enable grayscale onscreen. Once you set the filter, the settings apply systemwide, so you’ll see only shades of grey on the Home screen, apps, and more.
• Reduce Motion: When you turn on Reduce Motion, some screen elements no longer move. For example, the movement of icons on the Home screen will be simpler and more directly associated with your navigation gestures.
• Reduce Transparency: For features like alerts, Siri, and Glances, you can increase the contrast on your Apple Watch screen by reducing the background transparency.
• On/Off Labels: To make it easier to see whether a setting is on or off, you can have Apple Watch show an additional label on the on/off switch.
• Mono Audio: When you’re using Bluetooth headphones, you may miss some audio if you’re deaf or hard of hearing in one ear. Apple Watch supports Mono Audio, allowing you to play both audio channels in both ears, and letting you adjust the balance for greater volume in either ear.
• Taptic Engine: Taptic Engine a linear actuator inside Apple Watch that produces haptic feedback. You’ll feel a gentle tap on your wrist every time a notification comes in. And you can turn on Prominent Haptic to pre-announce some common alerts. So you’ll never miss messages, mail, and other important events.
General Tips on How to Use Accessibility Features:
• Accessibility Shortcut: Choose to quickly turn on and off VoiceOver or Zoom using the Accessibility Shortcut. Once enabled in the Apple Watch app, you can simply triple click the digital crown to turn on and off one of these two accessibility features.
• All features can be enabled via the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. The accessibility settings tab on the Apple Watch app are prominently displayed, easy to find and accessible via VoiceOver. In addition, some features are accessible from the Watch itself including: Extra large watch face, Large Type, Bold Type, VoiceOver, Zoom, Reduce Motion and On/Off.
• Inductive Charger: Simple inductive charging requires no plugging in. Sleek magnetic connection conveniently positions Apple Watch correctly onto the charging puck each time.
That is it for now
That is it for my pre-release notes on the Apple watch as of April 10 2015. I will be doing a series of podcasts on the Apple watch once I get mine in my hand or should that be on my wrist, so thanks for reading and by for now.
David Woodbridge April 10 2015