(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:
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.
While we’re getting setup, and possibly beyond, one useful utility is the Android Magnification Gestures. Here’s some more info on that feature:
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:
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:
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:
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”:
In April 2015, I revisited this topic in part 1 of what will be a multi-part series on Google Now:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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!