Tag Archives: screen reader

I finally wrote it up 3 months with Android. My thoughts.

Next blog post I will talk about 7 people drinking in a Best Western and me face planting in to a poll while catching the bus so embarrassing and painful. I really miss a dog which I am having a Juno walk with a school Saturday so stay tuned. About 3 months ago I switched from I-phone to Android. I am going to review how things are going talk about the strengths of Android and weaknesses. To do so I am going to break things in to sections. I got the Note 9 so let me start with that.

I had the IPhone 8plus and never really enjoyed it for some reason. I call it the decline to my wanting to change. The Note 9 is similar to the 8plus but has taller where the iPhone is wider. Overall as far as feel goes I really like the Note 9’s feel and size it’s nice to hold. Sound quality I like the Note 9 but the IPhone has much better sounding speakers. Not that the Note 9’s are bad, but if I were on an Island with no Bluetooth I’d want the IPhone speakers. Charging though I like the Note 9. I think Samsung giving you a faster charger out of the box is a plus. Also it supports fast WiFI which currently the IPhone doesn’t. Also USBC is just much better and is the standard with Apple going to USBC now for the IPad the Iphone has become foolish with the lightning port. Also the fact you have to buy a dongle to hook it up to a Mac is just observe.

Let’s talk about Android vs IOS. For the sighted folks hold on I think you will like this part still. I enjoy Android for being able to take my Note 9 and hook it directly up to a computer and drag and drop files on to it. I can even take a Doc file from my phone and move it to the computer. Samsung actually gives you a USBC to USBA converter in the box so you can easily hook it up to a computer. This is something IOS just can’t do who really wants to use ITunes these days? Yeah no one. Another aspect I like is customization. On IOS you have apps everywhere and its difficult to remember where things are. On android I have one page of apps and then I have widgets. For example if I am listening to a book on Audible I can from my home screen press play and the book starts playing. If I am finished with the book I can click on the open Audible app and the app launches. Something so simple but really makes it fun, because to fast forward and rewind it’s nothing and you don’t have to even have the app running. I have rearranged my home screen at least 3 times each time learning something new and incorporating something new. This is completely different from Iphone where it’s been the same for the last 5 years. Not to mention it has a headphone jack still and a SD slot.

My Note 9 gets good battery life, but I do think Iphone handles battery optimization better. I also think the Iphone handles ram better also. I think the common user just wants to have there phone working and things cleared out automatically Android I’m having to clear ram and put apps to sleep constantly to preserve battery power. I think this is the biggest space where Android could use work. Don’t get me wrong my Note 9 is amazing and lasts the day, but I don’t think one should have to do so much worrying. I may just be over zealous though myself.

Sound and options. Hands down this goes to Android. I have a pair of headphones that can play different codecs. Apple only does AAC. For example with my headphones I can listen to Sony’s HD Qualcomm HD and some more. To top it off if that wasn’t enough I also have Adobe Atmos. This thing is a blind mans wet dream let me tell you. I hear sighted folks talk about how great a TV set is with different 4K 8k whatever, but I finally get it with Android and all of these sound options. I literally heard Tyler Childress tap his guitar in a song which on Apple I can not hear it. So shame on apple for holding the sound codec to one option.

This is partly an accessibility thing, but I thought I’d give it’s own paragraph but I really like the Note 9 for being a phone. For example if my phone rings I can press volume up to answer and end to end the call. It also makes a tone when the call is connected and a tone when disconnected. Using this as a phone is actually enjoyable. The Iphone is fine, but I do like the fact I can customize and use the buttons on the device to do things. That leads me to a point. Why the hell Iphone to turn you off do you have to now press the side button plus volume down to turn the thing off? What happened to it just works? Now you have to do a 2 button combo just to be able to turn off the phone? Fail. I do wish Android had some of the emergency features Apple has built in honestly. Knowing I could easily get to 911 was actually comforting. I am not sure I could do the same on Android and feel that should be one feature they copy. That being said holding the power button and seeing restart or shutdown is so nice.

Now to the section sighted folks can tune out. Accessibility. I love the fact on my phone I have 3 screen readers. I have Voice Assistant by Samsung, TalkBack by google, and Shine plus by a Korean company. I do love having choices and again Apple is so wall gardened in. That can be a good thing for some things. I still find unlabeled buttons with Voice Assistant TalkBack has gotten better, but I would say it still is a problem too. I find that apps are pretty similar however IOS usually gets new features first. I journal a lot with an app called Day 1 and on IOS it has a feature where you can capture audio recording. Sadly this isn’t on the Android version. I do love using Android as a media consuming device. I use my Note 9 so much more than my IPad for listening to sports, or watching tv. I just really enjoy it for some reason. The race is getting closer. The fact I am not itching to go back to IOS should tell you something. I think that someone can pick up an Android and be fine. I do miss games on IOS. The blind offerings are getting better, but I miss games like spades and bowling. Voice Assistant has similar gestures to Voiceover on the IOS side it has 3 finger gestures and also the double tap with 2 fingers to pause and play music. TalkBack does not have any 3 finger gestures however I will say drawing the shapes has gotten easier and seems like it works most of the time. I primarily use Voice Assistant and switch to TalkBack when needed. It will be interesting to see what I think next year, but I think I will stay. I do think if your someone who likes to tinker and play with things go with Android. If you want a milder experience that will just work unless Apple tells you it won’t go with IOS.

I know I didn’t go to much in to depth, but I’m surprised how much I like Android. Six months ago I would have told you that your crazy and Android can’t do as much as IOS. Now I eat those words and sentiments. Being able to play with different audio codecs alone is so cool, and something Apple just doesn’t let you do. I hope Samsung keeps pushing Voice Assistant further also. Pie will becoming in Jan and I am honestly hoping to see some new features. If nothing changes and I feel it’s not progressing it might make me look back towards Apple. I have enjoyed some Android Apps and things they allow that IOS doesn’t. Take Audible again for example you can actually buy a book in the app. On Apple you have to go to Safari buy the book and then get it in the app do to Apple trying to take 30%.

One area that is getting better for me lately, but in the beginning was frustrating was browsing on the internet. Focus on Android seemed to be all over the place. I feel Apple gives you a better experience here. However on Android I have 4 browsers so I have several options to view a page. Recently on Apple even I was looking at the Bose website and it kept freezing as I was going down the page in safari. I changed to my Note 9 and was able to view the site perfectly. I think as people we believe one should be better than the other. Truthfully I look at screen readers and OS as tools in my tool box. They all have strengths and weaknesses, but as a savvy person we need to decide and try different options at times to yield the best result. For now I’m happy in Samsung land, but if things stop I will look elsewhere. That my friends is the best thing I could say. We as blind people finally have a choice. I got tired of paying the damn Apple tax, and I could switch and still survive and still be productive. Years ago this wouldn’t have been an option. Remember when Windows was are only option for a while because the Mac shutdown screen readers?

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You must be newly blind?

I think it’s a wonderful time to be blind. For the first time in my life as far as technology goes you can go to any of the big companies and use their operating system Straight Out of the Box. Microsoft, Apple, and Google all offer options straight out of the box that are accessible to anyone who is blind. That really is a dream come true saying that statement. When I was a kid I would have to buy a laptop for example then pay around $1,000 to add on a screen reader. You couldn’t just buy a cheap computer back then no computers were really cheap but even the cheaper ones wouldn’t work with a screen reader you had to have extra Ram to make it work efficiently. So we would spend around $1,500 on a laptop plus then an extra thousand for the screen reader. That isn’t the end of it though unfortunately! What would happen is the screen reader would have to be updated every 6 months to a year depending on how fast technology was moving. So for that you would have to buy what’s called a maintenance agreement which would cost around $25athree upgrades. Things have gotten a lot better since then really we have apple to thank for making voiceover accessible and so good out of the box it has Force Google and now Microsoft to play catch-up and do the same. After seeing Microsoft I really feel that they are wanting to make they’re operating system accessible. This hadn’t been the case under the previous CEO but I really do feel they are trying hard to catch up and possibly become better than what we currently have. It will take time but meeting the people who are actually developing narrator and the other products I do believe in them. Four jobs we need them and Jaws to become better!

I had a few moments out there of just realizing how far technology has come for blind people and how affordable it’s becoming. I think I told you last post I switch to Android! I actually trade in my Galaxy S9 in for a new Galaxy Note 9. I did that because I wanted the bigger battery and even though I’m not thrilled with having the bigger phone the battery makes up for it. This note 9 simply is the best phone I’ve owned in 2 or 3 years! It’s fast and gets me through the day and then some. I used it the entire day once getting to the airport so I had a four and a half hour flight to Chicago and another hour to Louisville. It did amazing I still had 50% of my battery left when getting to the airport to call an Uber. Accessibility wise I do run into a few frustrations with apps however it’s nothing that I can’t manage I’ve pretty much replaced any app that I used on a regular basis on iOS besides games. I wish Android had a few more games that were developed for the blind or that were developed for everyone that worked with the screen readers! I miss my card games! I think though I’m going to stay with Android for the foreseeable future

It’s funny though I was at the airport waiting to fly to Chicago and I heard voice over coming from someone’s iPhone. I thought I wonder if I know them because you know all blind people know each other! See how I plan to the stereotypes? Anyway I heard the guy talking and I said George is that you? He said who is that? I said it’s me Joe. I had met this guy George at the world blind Union conference that was going on out there he works for the American Federation for the blind. I also met his colleague Matthew so I assumed Matthew was with him and I said Matthew are you there too? It was pretty cool recognizing them from afar.

I didn’t have a moment though we’re I realized as a blind person that we still need to push forward. I have contemplated ending the blog and not giving updates because honestly my life isn’t that interesting. However I met Chris in Chicago who changed my mind. So I get to Chicago from Seattle and ask for an agent to get me to my gate because I only have about 30 minutes and didn’t want to risk being late. So Chris meets me and asked me where I was coming from so I mentioned that I was coming from Seattle he asked if I was there on business or pleasure? I responded business. He said just out of curiosity what do you do? So I gave him the run-down and advised I was out at Microsoft for 4 days. He said wow you can work at Microsoft? I didn’t really know how to handle this question but basically what I actually do. He said oh so you must be recently blinded? Me know I have cancer when I was a year old. Chris damn dude you must be really smart! Me that may have been a? I apologize but I’m dictating. Anyway I said no I work with a lot of people who are smarter than me I’m just a tester. It really is true I’ve talked about this and other post I feel that the blind developers I work with do not get the same recognition they deserve for producing these products. Anyway it’s sort of irritates me that people still have this opinion that blind people just sit around and do nothing all day. It’s sort of baffling to me for someone who has worked their entire life! Well maybe not my entire life but most of my adulthood. I’ve had the struggle that most blind people face in finding employment but I’ve been fortunate I know there’s people out there who aren’t as fortunate and haven’t found work and it’s guys like Chris that really irritate me because unfortunately you have some of those same folks hiring. The problem is that I feel you go into an interview and people look at you and say wow how would he do this or how would she do that? They’re not looking at the realization and the abilities of person actually has their seeing themselves as a blind person. It was completely out of the normal for Chris to think that a blind person could actually work at Microsoft never mind that I had actually met three blind people who work at Microsoft while I was there.

I feel like the dictation so far is killing apples! I haven’t corrected anything yet. Any mess-ups probably are from me not speaking clearly. Anyway it’s been a crazy few months hard to believe I’ve been married for two already! Abby and I are doing well our heat went out today so I called and have a repairman coming tomorrow. This happened once before at my house and it was a cold night thankfully and Louisville it’s not that cold yet! It’ll probably get down to about! I’m enjoying being married though we are a good team! Her more so than I probably. I haven’t had to sleep on the couch yet so that’s saying something! The next entry I’ll be back to the keyboard well as long as Apple fixes their damn iPad keyboard issue. I bought an iPad to be a replacement for a laptop lately since iOS 12 though for some reason when I click on a box my keyboard refuses to type the thing it’s supposed to do the best! Too bad apple doesn’t hire me to be a quality assurance person for them I would have pointed this out and beta! It really is driving me nuts.

I’m going to be real with you guys for a minute. I recently just got back from a trip and I do like to travel but the older I get I realize there’s a sadness with that. As a blind person I don’t enjoy going places as much as I used to when I was a kid. I think as I’ve aged I miss some of the things people who can see get when they travel. For me all the sounds are the same. I think that’s why I enjoy Germany so much because it was actually different. I gained a lot of experience and her new things that I don’t often hear here. Seattle or Redmond felt just like Louisville! I used to flip on the radio and go up and down the dial listening to different shows or programs because city-to-city they would be different. Now radio is the same no matter where you are! So that’s gone. I didn’t even bother. However went out walking or driving around in a Uber. I noticed all of the same restaurants and the same things that Louisville has. I mean sure I could go to the Space Needle but what am I gaining from that? I don’t know maybe I’m just being a little grumpy but it is true the more we grow and become unified the more things are looking the same. I know that may not have hit you guys yet as people who can see, but for blind people it really is sort of becoming sad. I think that’s why I enjoy going to see Fraser in the country because it’s different it’s quiet not many people around and it’s just something I don’t get to experience every day. I also grew up on a farm so it reminds me a lot of my childhood but these are all feel the same to me for the most part. Other than being definitely more pine trees and sort of forest e feeling it was Louisville! I just had to travel five and a half hours to sort of be in the same place. I think some services are helping with describing different scenery and things, but at the end of the day it’s sort of his old the same to me. For example when Abby and I were in Chicago and we did our sailboat river cruise we learned a lot about the city’s architecture, but nothing really remain with me from that. The feelings of being on the water in the wind were incredible and that is what stuck with me. Mainly because it’s something I don’t experience every day here in Louisville. I’m sure though if you asked a majority of the people on that same Cruise they would point to a picture of something in the skyline from Chicago or something they salt. After that cruise really Chicago is just a big city experience. I don’t know it’s sort of made me sad in a weird way that I feel this way, but there’s not much I can do I’m just saying and sharing my experience. I wish that going to Seattle or going to anywhere else somehow felt different. I tried to go to some local restaurants while I was there and did. I had a great shrimp burrito for example, but most of the places that we were near were chain restaurants. Due to timing I ended up having to go to Red Robin one night and Jersey Mike’s the next. Maybe that also maybe just sort of feel like I could have been anywhere else or at home. I had a co-worker with me the first two days and he was walking around and describe some of the scenery to me which helped! One morning on his own and I met him at Microsoft. He was telling me about all the things he saw on campus which I thought was me but had I been with him I don’t think I would have felt any different than I do now. It’s great that they have a treehouse but I can’t see that..

I’m a pretty positive guy so I’m not sure I wanted to end with that. I don’t have much else to say other than it is a great time to be alive with all this technology! I know this might be hard for you to understand but I don’t honestly sit around and think about having sight at all. Just when reflecting in a forum like this and hearing people talk about visiting Seattle and things they did I realized that there are definitely disadvantages that I’m seeing. I’m very content with being blind I honestly if given the chance probably would not take Vision if it were available to get. I would have to relearn everything I’ve talked about that and other post. I will give you guys one break quote from me. I think that we’re all custom to what we know. The grew up in the country sometimes the city could be scary. If you grew up in the city sometimes you might think the country scary. Ultimately how we grew up the things around us develop the character we become. I’ve been blind since a child and to think about having sight randomly is sort of scary. When I sit in my chair and listen to a baseball game for example I have no light perception my brain is completely focused in on that game. Or an app. Anyway if I could see I would constantly have light hitting my eye Michael May talks about that in his book crashing through when he was able to get some Vision back.