ZoomReader

Category: 

Description of App: 

Compatible with iPhone 4 with iOS 4.2+ onlyIn combination with your iPhone’s built-in camera, ZoomReader lets you magnify and read printed text by first taking a picture of an object like a book or menu, then converts the image into text using state-of-the-art Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. ZoomReader will then read the text back to you using a natural-sounding voice.ZoomReader isn’t just for books – it can be used to read small print on a receipt, box, menu, or pill bottle – wherever there’s small text you can’t read yourself. Whether you’re on the go or you’re using ZoomReader to help you read a newspaper in the comfort of your living room, this quick and powerful program does everything a dedicated video magnifier can do – from the convenience of your iPhone and at a much lower price.If you have trouble reading printed text, ZoomReader can help by allowing you to change the foreground and background colors, making everything easier on your eyes plus you can simultaneously adjust the magnification level. ZoomReader also leverages the iPhone’s built-in accessibility features such as Zoom and VoiceOver, and offers an affordable and easy to use solution in an all-in-one mobile device.Developed from the ground up by Ai Squared, a leader in low-vision software, ZoomReader features a simple user interface with large, prominent buttons, and even offers voice control of the various features. ZoomReader is the newest iPhone app for the visually impaired and anyone else in need of a little visual assistance.

Apple Watch Support: 

Not Known

Version: 

1.0.2

Free or Paid: 

Paid

Device(s) App Was Tested On: 

iPhone

Accessibility Comments: 

AppleVis Editor Note: the ratings for Usability and Button Labelling have been updated to reflect the changes made in version 1.0.1.Original Comments: This is a very difficult app to comment on in terms of accessibility.If commenting on whether it can be used with VoiceOver, the answer would be a qualified yes. However, if asked whether a blind person could get results from the app that justify its $20 price tag, the answer is far less clear.But, back to the first question, which is whether ZoomReader is accessible with VoiceOver. In its current state, it is, but only if you have hints enabled in your iPhone settings. If not, VoiceOver will just announce a series of unlabelled buttons. With hints turned on, these will give you a clear indication of button functions, and the app is usable.AI Squared have admitted that the omission of button labels was a mistake, and that it will be corrected in the next update. Once it is, the app will provide full VoiceOver support.The question then, is whether a blind user can actually use the app in a way that produces consistent and reliable results.Like any other scanning or OCR app on the iOS platform, a number of factors can effect the quality of the results. Some of these are outside of the control of the user, such as the quality of the camera and the actual capabilities of the app itself. However, factors such as lighting, the centering of documents in the view finder, the distance of document from camera and a steady hand are all critical to getting good results.With the residual vision that I have, I am able to ensure good lighting and good positioning and alignment of documents. However, even with fairly simple documents, the results so far have rarely been any better than what I have achieved with other scanning apps. The only advantage with ZoomReader, is that I can have the resulting text read from within the app.AI Squared have stated that some sight is necessary to use the app. They also emphasize that the app is not intended for blind users. However, some improvements to the app would certainly make things easier for blind users, such as automatic detection of document edges and automatic image capture. Both of these features are available in other apps.Perhaps my main criticism of this app is that it doesn't get close to what should be the real benefits of having an app such as this available on a mobile platform. The likelihood is that anybody who struggles to read printed documents has already got measures in place at home or work to help (be it reading glasses, reading lamps, magnifiers, text scanners or a CCTV). This app is unlikely to offer people any real advantage over these. However, what it could provide is a portable solution. Being on a phone means that is is likely to be with us most of the time. It just needs to be quick and easy to use, and to produce good results. It is quick and easy, but whenever I have tried to use this app in anything other than 'ideal' settings, the results have been unusable. These ideal settings are not likely to be what you will find in a restaurant or store, so I am not sure ZoomReader is the solution to reading the menu or telling you the contents of that jar on the shelf.So, although ZoomReader is accessible to VoiceOver users, I would urge people to keep their expectations low when deciding whether to part with $20.It will be interesting to hear the experience of other users. It will also be interesting to see how this app evolves and (hopefully) improves.

VoiceOver Performance: 

VoiceOver reads all page elements.

Button Labeling: 

All buttons are clearly labeled.

Usability: 

The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver and is easy to navigate and use.