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Do Androids dream of accessible phones?

July 2, 2014

Ok, it’s happened, my Nokia C5 has finally exited my pocket and the slightly larger heavier moto-E phone has replaced it. My transition has been long and slow and this has I think reflected the neurological adaptation that has had to take place in my brain. Simple as that.

Pros: with Moto-E held in an ergonomic position in left hand and right fingertip sliding around the slippy screen, and with “experimental single tap” mode on, and with my frustration shield up (i.e. I don’t expect Talk Back to work smoothly) this phone works, for ringing people, reading my text SMS threads, sending Texts, email and Gmail, messy and jittery web browsing, and experimenting with Aps.

For a person who can cope with a phone that won’t answer calls roughly 20% of the time because the slide right to answer gesture doesn’t always work (double finger tap on my previous iPhone didn’t either by the way), and doesn’t mind having to physically stop walking on the street in order to do anything with the phone whether reading or messaging or using orientation Aps or searching for an address, the sorts of things that a handheld device is most useful for when out and about, making this a mobile device providing you aren’t actually walking and trying to operate it at the same time, then this phone hits the yes button!

Cons: unlike my Nokia C5, this type of touch screen phone cannot usefully facilitate answering calls, reading and writing texts, reading web pages and instantly getting and refreshing bus departure boards on TFL etc when I’m actually walking along with my white cane and navigating the pavement. Strange as it might sound, I got used to speeding out of my office and down to the bus stop and pulling up and checking live bus departure boards whilst striding along, within safety margins. This is one of the real downsides for me with the whole slippy touch screen user interface, and this applies to all devices of this type, not just Android.

I’m not going to write loads in this posting, but I can’t finish without inevitably commenting on the Apple v Google comparison which is very much a topic of conversation these days, so on this I have to conclude, from 3 intensive weeks living with this Moto-E as my only phone, that what Google have achieved so far for an inclusive society is this
–Google have definitely opened up this Moto-E and I guess all other Android smartphones on the market (at a higher price) so I can get to at least play with it, but this isn’t enough, I need to live with my smartphone not just experiment and play with it. Google’s attention to detail in terms of delivering Talk Back as a smooth, efficient and positive user interaction is demonstrably error prone and really poor in places, and generally feeling like a prototype not a finished product.

Final thought, although for some reason I like the idea of being an Android user, oddly, the effect of my experience with Android and Talk back, is that it’s wetted my appetite for what a smartphone that does enable a more smooth and successful mode of interaction could offer me, so I might upgrade to an Apple device sooner rather than later.


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