(Newest post for returning visitors – Microsoft Office has a new “Black” theme. Published on 25/02/2016).
Hi and welcome!
Since I’ve formed my new company, 22 Point, I thought it was a good time to re-brand the blog as well. Don’t worry, it will still contain the same high quality content you’re used to. In the meantime, you might also like to check out the new website: http://www.22point.com.au/. While we don’t (and won’t) charge directly for this blog, you may wish to support us continuing our work through purchases of our first book “Making Windows 10 Easy to See” http://www.22point.com.au/publications.html, our first Android app, RapiTap! and our Large print mouse pointers for Windows users.
Ok, enough advertising *grin*. My main intent behind this blog is to share some of what I’ve learnt as a large print Android user. I’ve tried to order the pages below to cover topics in a logical order from choosing a handset, through finding the best launcher, to choosing the best apps for different purposes. If you’re curious about who I am and why I am writing this blog, you might like to read a bit more about Who am I anyway?
If you’re more interested in my musings on Windows 10, then jump on down to my Windows 10 posts
If you’d like to skip straight to a list of suggested apps for different user groups, go to: Sample phone setup options for different users
Firstly, choosing a handset, that is, what to look for when buying a phone:
Choosing an Android handset for low vision – Part 1: Screen size & Aspect Ratio
Choosing an Android phone for low vision – Part 2: Display Technology and Resolution.
Choosing an Android phone for low vision – Part 3: Brand and Android version.
Now once you’ve got your phone home, the first thing you’ll want to do is turn it on, so let’s walk through that. As an added bonus, we’ll also cover factory resetting an existing phone.
Unboxing a new device / factory resetting your device
While we’re getting setup, and possibly beyond, one useful utility is the Android Magnification Gestures. Here’s some more info on that feature:
Using Android Magnification Gestures.
Next up, let’s have a look at launchers – the launcher is what is on screen when you’re not specifically in an app – like the “desktop” on a computer, it usually has icons or links to your apps and can contain other items such as a clock, or the current temperature. Launchers are a big part of making Android more accessible as the default launchers have very small text and icons and don’t always work with Talkback (the speech in Android), so here are some other options which will really improve your Android experience:
Launchers Part 1 – Stock vs Big Launcher
Launchers Part 2 – Simplified Launchers
Launchers Part 3 – Mainstream Android launchers with large print
Speaking of Talkback – In July 2013 there was a significant update to it which I wrote a piece on:
Quick update on Talkback
Now that you’ve got your device up and running, it’s a good point to mention a few housekeeping tips on keeping your phone safe and secure:
Android Housekeeping pt 1: Staying safe using Android
Android housekeeping pt 2: Advertising and Analytics
Android housekeeping pt 3: Keeping your device in shape
Once you are up and running with your device and happily downloading apps, I’d encourage you to share your app experiences with others. A good way of doing this is by rating them on the Google Play Store. Paritcularly for Talkback users this isn’t as obvious as we might hope, so here is an overview of rating apps:
Reviewing Android apps on the Play Store.
The keyboard is one of the main things you’ll use to interact with your new device, whether to write email, search for cool apps, or write a reminer to buy milk on the way home, so let’s compare some of the different offerings:
Many users would like to skip interacting with the keyboard and simply dictate commands and queries to their device. While I personally resisted for as long as I could, In July 2014 I sat down to see what I could do with “OK Google”:
Ok Google voice commands and dictation
In April 2015, I revisited this topic in part 1 of what will be a multi-part series on Google Now:
Using Google Now in 2015 – Part 1
If you are running a version of Android earlier than 4.2 or a rooted device and wanting large print, then one of these font enlargement apps will probably be an essential item for you – they enlarge the font in all kinds of places from the settings to the Play store to Gmail and more:
If you are willing to install a custom ROM on your phone, you can access settings which are otherwise hidden, such as the font size mentioned above. Here are some of the settings you can adjust to make the font larger, and how they affect your apps:
Adjusting Android screen resolution, pixel density and font size for large print As a companion to this, you may wish to view my comparison of camera apps (more on camera apps shortly) which has images of each app at both regular and double DPI: Comparison of camera apps for blind and low vision users (with data).
Whether to root your Android device and install a custom ROM is a complex question, here is my guide on what it is, what the process is and my experience with doing it:
Rooting Android and installing a custom ROM – Part 1: Overview
Rooting Android and installing a custom ROM – Part 2: The process
Rooting Android and installing a custom ROM – Part 3: My experience
Looking back to the original purpose for mobile phones, you may occasionally want to actually ring or SMS someone. Depending on the phone you have and the launcher you are using, you may want to investigate some of these large print alternatives for phone dialer and SMS apps:
Dialer and text messaging replacements
One very useful feature of modern phones is the camera, and one great way of using it as someone with low vision, is to zoom in and magnify things. While you can do this with the standard camera app, there are other apps which make performing the task even easier:
Next up is a series on using Android camera apps with low or no vision. The first post is a comparison of camera apps for those with low vision:
Android Camera Apps for Low Vision.
The companion piece to that of course is camera apps for blind users:
Camera Apps for Blind Users published on 01/06/2015).
To write both of those posts recommending camera apps, I played with 36 apps myself. I thought a third post with all my data and images of each would be useful so you can compare the options yourself.
Comparison of camera apps for blind and low vision users (with data).
Most Android devices come with a basic calculator as one of the built in apps, but some aren’t as accessible as others and many people want a more sophisticated calculator. Here are some of the options available:
The default GMail / E-Mail apps included pre-installed on most Android phones don’t offer much in terms of large print, so I’ve rounded up some of the alternatives here:
While we all justify our phones for productive or communication needs, I know you like games just as much as I do. Here’s some which are a bit easier to see for low vision users:
And here are some games which are accessible with the Talkback screen reader – some of which are speech only, and some have print which reads with Talkback and most of which can be played by people with any amound of sight:
Android Games for Talkback users
If you’re thinking about expanding your device collection and wondering how things look on a tablet compared to a phone (or vice versa if you started out with a tablet), then wonder no more:
Comparison of tablet and phone for large print users
As a slight departure from Android, I also wrote a post on screen resolution VS DPI in Microsoft Windows: Resolution vs DPI in Microsoft Windows
And continuing the Windows theme, I’ve done a one page primer on Windows 8 for Windows 7 users:
Windows 8 for Windows 7 users
and an initial, low vision look at the Windows 10 Technical Preview:
An initial, low vision look at the Windows 10 Technical Preview
I wrote a warning about the benefits but also the danger of Windows 10’s new policy of incorporating feature updates into regular, unavoidable updates for home users: Upgrading to Windows 10 could mean things stop working at anytime”> and a supplementary post going into more detail on the different Windows 10 branches: https://22point.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/upgrading-to-windows-10-future-upgrade-branch-options/
And as a counterpoint to that, a piece on how upgrading to Windows 10 could make future upgrades much smoother.
Fifteen days out from the launch of Windows 10 to the public, I posted about My thoughts on Windows 10 two weeks out from launch.
and Fifteen days after the launch of Windows 10, I shared Windows 10 – 15 days in, also my big book announcement! Yes the highly anticipated “Making Windows 10 Easy to See” is now available direct from 22 Point: http://www.22point.com.au/publications.html If you are enjoying my blog, please do consider purchasing both for your journey into Windows 10, plus it helps continue resources such as this blog.
At the three month mark, I’ve taken another look at where things are at, particularly after doing a seminar with Larry Muffett at Hadley:
Windows 10 three months in, how is it going?.
I also wrote up some notes on setting up Microsoft Office for low vision, prompted by the release of a new black theme for the suite: Microsoft Office has a new “Black” theme!
And one piece applicable to any platform on security: Every operating system and mobile platform is vulnerable to attack.
Finally, now that you’ve exhausted what I’ve written to date, I’ve started to compile links to other blogs / information and resources about Android accessibility on my Links to other resources page.
More to come soon and if there is anything you’d like to see me cover, please get in touch or leave me a comment!
14 thoughts on “Welcome to the new 22 Point Blog!”
Quentin I have a Samsung galaxy Tab4 and have Darwin Reader which I have problems navigating from one section to the next. Is there a specific tutorial that could help me and also is there an alternaive reader that I could try.
Good question John. I also had problems with Darwin Reader. The DAISY Consortium have a page here: http://www.daisy.org/daisypedia/daisy-books-mobile-phones-and-multimedia-devices and for Android they’ve listed Darwin, Go Read – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.benetech.android&hl=en and an open source Google project: https://code.google.com/p/android-daisy-epub-reader/ – Go Read then is probably the next one to try as it’s a straight download from the Play store
Thank you Quentin, I have previously downloaded Go read but have been unable to download books or newspapers from vision Australia on to it – from what I can see all downloads have to be from Bookshare. Could you advise if it is possible to download VA books to Go Read and if possible how do I do it.
Ah now I remember that was my experience too – A couple of suggestions from the VI-Android list on this subject just today (thanks Øyvind and Christopher) were: Smart Audiobook player: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ak.alizandro.smartaudiobookplayer and Librivox: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=biz.bookdesign.librivox – Librivox looks like it has its own library so you wouldn’t be able to access Vision Australia books, but Smart Audiobook Player doesn’t have a library and assumes you have otherwise downloaded the books to your device already, so you’d log in to i-Access using your browser (Firefox tends to work best if you are using Talkback) and download, then use Smart Audiobook Player to listen. I had searched for “DAISY” on the Play store with little success beyond the already mentioned apps, but just did a search for “audiobook” and found a lot more – some are players and some are libraries, but looks like it’s worth having a look through.
Thank you Quentin. That option has been downloaded and seems to work fine however it leads me to another question and I certainly hope that I am not imposing too much on you. I have subscribed to download newspapers from Vision Australia and find that they are not accepted by most of the readers – only the Darwin which will not allow me to skip from one section to the next. Is there any way that I can convert the newspaper file so that I can have it played back on Smart Audio boook Reader.
I have also read your blog on font sizes and have already had success with these.
Keep up the good work – your blog is excellent value for novices like me.
Wonder if you can help me again. I have a Samsung Galaxy Android Tab and would like to know if it is possible to have a shortcut on thee Home page for Talkback to enable me to simply turn it on and off when required.
Look forward to your reply.
Hi John, Good question! it depends on exactly which tab you have. The Galaxy Tab S (as the Galaxy S5 and 6 and Galaxy Note 4) has a feature called “Direct access” which lets you triple press the home key to either open accessibility settings or toggle a particular accessibility feature on or off (eg Talkback or invert colours). if you’ve got that it will be in Settings -> Accessibility, scroll down and it should be labelled “Direct access”. If you don’t have that, there is an option called “Accessibility shortcut” which is a standard Android feature, which lets you hold down the power key until it dings and vibrates, then place and hold two fingers on the screen until Talkback comes on (same as you can do when you are first setting up the device). You can pause Talkback by opening the global context menu with the down and right gesture (as if you are drawing a capital ‘L’ on screen) then slide up to the top left. There is an option under Talkback settings to “resume from suspend” so when you want to turn it on you can lock the screen then turn it back on again.
Thank you Quentin,
What an excellent response – do you get penalty rates for Sundays?
The Direct Access worked fine – so simple once you know how to do it.
*grin* only if you buy RapiTap on the weekend 🙂 – Or my Windows 10 book when it comes out early August!
I have got low vison and i am looking for something to make things bigger on my Leader tablet 10.1
Can you pleaser help me out.
Some of the apps on the play store are not compatible with my tablet.
Please let me know.
I am also looking for an app that like whatsapp.
I want to send text messages to someone.
Hi Craig, I’m not specifically familiar with the Leader Tablet however re apps on the play store, yes some are only designed for certain devices or have had specific problems on particular devices, so there’s not a lot you can do about that aside from find an alternative. I found a page that mentioned the leader tab came with Android 4.1.1 – if it hasn’t got any updates then some of the apps on the font enlargement page here should be able to make things bigger: https://22point.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/android-font-enlargement-apps/ – if it has been upgraded to Android 4.2 or later then those won’t work unless you root the tablet, and I did put some thoughts on that here too: https://22point.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/rooting-android-part-1/ – even without going to that length, if you have 4.2, you also have the built in magnification gestures and you can find some tips on that here: https://22point.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/using-android-magnification-gestures/ Finally, WhatsApp is available on Android (and accessible with Talkback too for anyone using that): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.whatsapp – either the large font or magnification might make it easier to see hopefully now! Kind regards, Quentin.
The whatsapp doesn’t work with my tablet.
I am now looking to sell my tablet. Do you know where i can seel it?
It comes with a keyboard. If anyone wants it for their kids please let me know.
It doesn’t have much apps on it but it will be wipe clean and it comes in it’s box.
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Thanks Ricardo! I really appreciate you writing, and I’m glad you and your buddies found the info useful! Now, I must come back and write some more! I have been busy and neglected the blog for a little while, but I am still here!