iOS or Android for the visually impaired: nine reasons that count

When it comes to choosing a new handset, I can become as meticulous and picky as hell! It’s not necessarily a vice; however, if it takes more than three months to make your final decision, it can no longer be called a “virtue” either.

Having used several Symbian handsets such as the 6630, N73, N82, N86, and X7, I finally decided to kiss goodbye to Symbian about four months ago. My phones were sort of decrepit and I needed something new. Having had heard many good points about Android (I’m a Googler by heart), the very thought of landing in the world of Apple was never on my mind. However, after considering the following factors I decided to forgo Android. Note that here I’m not going to list the typical VoiceOver vs. Talkback arguments; rather, I want to focus on the nifty little features people might ignore. I looked into all of these at the time of making my mind.

1. The screen curtain

Yes, I must mention it first! This feature allows users to essentially turn off the display and use the handset without necessarily worrying about prying eyes or the so-called “quidnunc.” Now someone might say Android can do the same with a third-party app. Though I’ve not heard of such an app, VoiceOver’s approach requires no extra installation or configuration – just a gesture.

2. Labeling unknown icons

New to iOS 5, this feature allows users to give a proper name to unknown or confusing controls. I’ve used it several times in various apps, and can’t imagine how a mobile screen reader can exist without it. Perhaps I’m lucky enough to have entered the iOS world at the right time.

3. Flicking is the star of the show

I’ve heard this from some Android fanboys: “flicking is unnecessary and time-consuming.” May I beg to differ? Flicking makes a huge difference in using newly installed apps and discovering new controls. Even when you’re too tired to locate the proper place quickly, flicking efficaciously does the job. The nice point about VoiceOver is that it can also be operated without flicking – a single and fast movement of one finger from left to right or vice versa, but Android’s solution doesn’t have such a feature altogether.

4. Independent and functional touch and keyboard modes

Everyone knows that VoiceOver can be operated with or without a Bluetooth keyboard. That is, if you don’t have one such keyboard, you’ll lose no functionality. However, as things stand right now with Android 4.0 (ICS), some operations -- especially using the native web browser as opposed to third-party ones – require a Bluetooth keyboard. This, of course, will change as TalkBack matures, but, hey, we’re not talking about the future. Here it’s also worth mentioning that VoiceOver’s keyboard hot keys and functions are quite comprehensive and easily go beyond simple element by element navigation.

5. Easy movement to the top and bottom of the screen

With iOS 5 one can perform a four-finger gesture on the top or bottom of the screen and move the focus to that area – I mean to the very first or the very last item on the screen. That’s really fantastic.

6. Better language and voice support

Simply put, I don’t like the default Android voice for US and UK English. In Android 4, Google has added a new TTS engine for some languages (namely US and UK English), but both of them are harsh on my ears. VoiceOver, on the other hand, uses the familiar Nuance Vocalizer voices – it even has Arabic language support though my language is Persian and can’t use it. Admittedly, extra voices can be purchased in Android (like the great Ivona voices), but I really don’t like the half-accessible Ivona app in Android. It’s currently in beta and therefore free, but it’ll definitely become a paid app soon.

7. The use of headings throughout the whole OS and in many apps

When I first read about this I thought it wasn’t a big deal, but it sure is. Using the Heading item in the router and a simple up/down gesture one can very comfortably move around sections and subsections in various windows and apps – the alphabetical list of Contacts is a very good example. This means that you can jump from letter A to letter B there as they’re identified by a heading.

8. Guaranteed future iOS updates

Even many Apple 3GS users have now upgraded to iOS 5.1 and are happily using their two-year-old handsets. Apart from the issue of largely inaccessible skins, Google doesn’t determine the fate of more than 99 percent of Android handsets – other handset manufacturers do.

9. Superior Braille support

I’ve heard that Braille is coming to Android through a commercial application. No one knows how it’s been implemented, but iOS has pristine built-in Braille support for those who need it.

OK, I do have many more reasons to list here (flexible Rotor, more accessible dictionaries and Apple’s commitment to VoiceOver are just three of them and let’s not forget the magnification features built into the iOS), but I guess these are enough to make anyone a happy camper.

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36 Comments

just my comments on your comments, java-style

Over the last couple of months Android has greatly peaked my interest, as well as the new iOS version. Let me comment on your comments with my observations. Perhaps it will get some healthy discussions going.

1. The screen curtain.
Yes, I must mention it first! This feature allows users to essentially turn off the display and use the handset without necessarily worrying about prying eyes or the so-called “quidnunc.” Now someone might say Android can do the same with a third-party app. Though I’ve not heard of such an app, VoiceOver’s approach requires no extra installation or configuration – just a gesture.
//True, that. The screen curtain is something I use pretty much all the time. I am not sure if there's a third-party app for achieving the same result, that is something worth looking in to. I think at least the brightness can be set to 0%, which essentially does the same. Also, you might be able to write a small tweak to get this going, again I haven't researched this but I certainly think it is possible.

2. Labeling unknown icons.
New to iOS 5, this feature allows users to give a proper name to unknown or confusing controls. I’ve used it several times in various apps, and can’t imagine how a mobile screen reader can exist without it. Perhaps I’m lucky enough to have entered the iOS world at the right time.
// Yep, that is certainly a welcome addition. I am thinking this will in some shape or form be implemented in Android in the future, but they'll first have to get their act together and increase accessibility. They are on their way with that, but not quite there yet.

3. Flicking is the star of the show.
I’ve heard this from some Android fanboys: “flicking is unnecessary and time-consuming.” May I beg to differ? Flicking makes a huge difference in using newly installed apps and discovering new controls. Even when you’re too tired to locate the proper place quickly, flicking efficaciously does the job. The nice point about VoiceOver is that it can also be operated without flicking – a single and fast movement of one finger from left to right or vice versa, but Android’s solution doesn’t have such a feature altogether.
//To be honest that would indeed be the thing I would miss the most if I would ever make the switch. Flicking also is the base for voiceOver navigation, it can be compared to a vo+left and vo+right on a mac. I would like such a thing on Android, and perhaps now a touch exploration mode exists in ICS, this kind of functionality will be implemented soon.

4. Independent and functional touch and keyboard modes.
Everyone knows that VoiceOver can be operated with or without a Bluetooth keyboard. That is, if you don’t have one such keyboard, you’ll lose no functionality. However, as things stand right now with Android 4.0 (ICS), some operations -- especially using the native web browser as opposed to third-party ones – require a Bluetooth keyboard. This, of course, will change as TalkBack matures, but, hey, we’re not talking about the future. Here it’s also worth mentioning that VoiceOver’s keyboard hot keys and functions are quite comprehensive and easily go beyond simple element by element navigation.
// I do not quite understand what you mean here. Why do ICS devices require a bluetooth keyboard? There's virtual keyboard support, as well as handsets which have a slide-out qwerty board. This is a non-android user speaking, but am I missing something? It's funny you should mention keyboards though, for I think that is an area where Android shines. Take for example the rumors of an upcoming braille typing app. This app will very likely have the exact same difficulty other text-input-apps on iOS have: you open the app, enter/dictate/input some text, and here comes the snag. You have to somehow export it to another app , either via a built-in method, copy-paste, open with or some such. Whereas in Android you could just say 'set braille keyboard as default' and you'll have that functionality everywhere, without any fuss.

5. Easy movement to the top and bottom of the screen.
With iOS 5 one can perform a four-finger gesture on the top or bottom of the screen and move the focus to that area – I mean to the very first or the very last item on the screen. That’s really fantastic.
//Nifty, indeed. Being a frequent iOS user I often forget about this shortcut, I usually tap the upper left or lower right corner of the screen for more or less the same result
6. Better language and voice support.
Simply put, I don’t like the default Android voice for US and UK English. In Android 4, Google has added a new TTS engine for some languages (namely US and UK English), but both of them are harsh on my ears. VoiceOver, on the other hand, uses the familiar Nuance Vocalizer voices – it even has Arabic language support though my language is Persian and can’t use it. Admittedly, extra voices can be purchased in Android (like the great Ivona voices), but I really don’t like the half-accessible Ivona app in Android. It’s currently in beta and therefore free, but it’ll definitely become a paid app soon.
// agreed, to some degree. I like the fact that you can choose your voice engine on Android , where you are bound to vocalizer on iOS. I agree on the voices being quite robotic, but if for example someone really really likes Espeak tthey can put that on their android if they want to.

7. The use of headings throughout the whole OS and in many apps.
When I first read about this I thought it wasn’t a big deal, but it sure is. Using the Heading item in the router and a simple up/down gesture one can very comfortably move around sections and subsections in various windows and apps – the alphabetical list of Contacts is a very good example. This means that you can jump from letter A to letter B there as they’re identified by a heading.
// Hmm ...I guess that is useful in an app with a humongous amount of elements but I cannot say I use that functionality often. To each their own though, of course.

8. Guaranteed future iOS updates.
Even many Apple 3GS users have now upgraded to iOS 5.1 and are happily using their two-year-old handsets. Apart from the issue of largely inaccessible skins, Google doesn’t determine the fate of more than 99 percent of Android handsets – other handset manufacturers do.
// I agree, again, to a degree. Although iOS runs on a 3GS, I am far from 'happily using it' and quite frequently I am cursing its sluggishness and performance issues. The word is optimization.

9. Superior Braille support.
I’ve heard that Braille is coming to Android through a commercial application. No one knows how it’s been implemented, but iOS has pristine built-in Braille support for those who need it.
OK, I do have many more reasons to list here (flexible Router, more accessible dictionaries and Apple’s commitment to VoiceOver are just three of them and let’s not forget the magnification features built into the iOS), but I guess these are enough to make anyone a happy camper.
// I think you are right, but I hope this shows Android should not be left completely out of the picture for a potential new phone.

My comments

Thanks, Florian, for your interesting comments. Please read my opinions below.
You said:
“I think at least the brightness can be set to 0%, which essentially does the same.”
// No, when the brightness is set to “0,” the screen is still visible. This is what my sighted friends and relatives have told me. So the “Screen curtain” is not the same as setting the brightness to “0.”
You said:
“I would like such a thing on Android, and perhaps now a touch exploration mode exists in ICS, this kind of functionality will be implemented soon.”
Let’s hope so. However, I’ve heard from some reliable sources that Apple has patented the “flick,” so any attempt on the part of rivals to implement it requires some sort of negotiation. Take this with a tinge of whatever erodes certainty, though.
You said:
“I do not quite understand what you mean here. Why do ICS devices require a bluetooth keyboard? There's virtual keyboard support, as well as handsets which have a slide-out qwerty board. This is a non-android user speaking, but am I missing something? It's funny you should mention keyboards though, for I think that is an area where Android shines. Take for example the rumors of an upcoming braille typing app. This app will very likely have the exact same difficulty other text-input-apps on iOS have: you open the app, enter/dictate/input some text, and here comes the snag. You have to somehow export it to another app , either via a built-in method, copy-paste, open with or some such. Whereas in Android you could just say 'set braille keyboard as default' and you'll have that functionality everywhere, without any fuss.”
// Let me clarify some points here. First, it’s true that ICS now supports virtual keyboards, but just go to the Eyes-Free list and you’ll see it’s both crash-prone and problematic in some areas especially when emulating the exact DPad behavior is concerned. Quite interestingly, a few Android engineers there actually like to recommend the use of a bluetooth keyboard in combination with Android’s touch capabilities for optimal functionality. Second, when I was referring to bluetooth keyboard support in iOS I was also trying to refer to VoiceOver’s comprehensive hot keys which are nowhere to be found in Android. With a bluetooth keyboard you can, say, move to different areas of the window, bring up the router, directly go to the Practice mode, check the Status area and the Notification center, use single-letter navigation in the native browser, and so forth. Third, while I acknowledge that Android is more flexible when it comes to selecting different keyboards, I’m of the belief that with VoiceOver’s enhanced select text/copy/paste functions one doesn’t necessarily need a wide range of keyboards to switch among. Also keep in mind that Talkback currently can’t perform text selection and copying operations at all or at least very easily. In general, Android’s flexibility is good to the point that we can utilize it. So far that hasn’t been translated to a superior screen reader and magnifier. Even the commercial solution – which I won’t pay for anyway – doesn’t match the ease of use and versatility of VoiceOver.
You said:
“agreed, to some degree. I like the fact that you can choose your voice engine on Android , where you are bound to vocalizer on iOS. I agree on the voices being quite robotic, but if for example someone really really likes Espeak tthey can put that on their android if they want to.”
// Well, if it were ETI Eloquence I’d buy your opinion instantly! I’ve never been an Espeak fan at all. The nice point about VoiceOver’s TTS is that it provides instant support for a wide range of languages without requiring extra purchases. High-quality alternatives for VoiceOver’s TTS on Android aren’t free, aren’t as inclusive as VoiceOver’s language support, and, according to many reports, are crash-prone.
You said:
“I agree, again, to a degree. Although iOS runs on a 3GS, I am far from 'happily using it' and quite frequently I am cursing its sluggishness and performance issues. The word is optimization.”
// I understand. However, many Android handsets which have been released in 2011 won’t even get ICS at all – I’m talking about many mid-range handsets released in the USA. Even the flagship ones haven’t yet received their ICS update. Though that’ll happen in the near future, no one knows if or when they’ll get a second update after that. Also, just to add substance to my argument, recently it’s been discovered that the version of ICS which HTC is to provide for its existing and new customers is largely inaccessible, and I’m sure you know why. Of course, users might be able to install different clock or calendar apps to circumvent the inaccessibility of the native ones provided by HTC, but, IMHO, accessibility shouldn’t be achieved with so much trouble and onus. As for your 3GS, I think you’re expecting too much from a two-year-old handset, given the pace of developments in the world of mobile operating systems. Then again, I’m sure you agree that even a two-year-old sluggish handset is better than a ten-month-old but virtually useless one.
You said:
“I think you are right, but I hope this shows Android should not be left completely out of the picture for a potential new phone.”
// That’s certainly true and everyone is free to make their own decision. Also, no one can ignore the so-called juggernautish status of Google. However, at this very moment I don’t see any Android handsets in a good position to compete with iOS devices in terms of accessibility. Some like the Galaxy Nexus might be good options but not direct competitors on an equal footing. I myself started my handset exploration from the world of Android as I thought the flexibility provided there would be a serious blow to whatever Apple offers – I was wrong. I wholeheartedly hope Android becomes a better competitor as it’ll definitely be beneficial to the visually impaired community.

Braille support

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

From what I was told by someone who used the braille support at CSUN, it's limited in the same way the mobile accessibility is. So while you can do email, browse the web, and so forth, you can't install a wide range of apps and use them with braille support. This, to me, is a big deal since I prefer braille to speech. If the Android OS had a way to support braille, I would at least give it a consideration.

Since Amir has already

Since Amir has already addressed a lot of the points I was going to make here, there's only one left that Florian makes that needs clarification. It's the forth item.

It's funny you should mention keyboards though, for I think that is an area where Android shines. Take for example the rumors of an upcoming braille typing app. This app will very likely have the exact same difficulty other text-input-apps on iOS have: you open the app, enter/dictate/input some text, and here comes the snag. You have to somehow export it to another app , either via a built-in method, copy-paste, open with or some such. Whereas in Android you could just say 'set braille keyboard as default' and you'll have that functionality everywhere, without any fuss.

Text input difficulties? Snags? I'm very confused about this one. Which apps currently run into these snags? I haven't seen any so far. Those are use actually put themselves in Settings>General>Keyboards where I can add them if I wish to do so, then switch to the keyboard I want in any text field by using the "Switch to" key on the keyboard. They don't require any opening of other applications and copy pasting whatsoever. This is very possible with the braille application also, but obviously, I have to wonder how the gestures would be prevented from interfering with VoiceOVer. I suppose that you would really have to know how big the keyboard is on the screen and tap within a certain area. Otherwise, I can see this causing a whole load of problems down the line.

you misunderstand

I was not referring to different keyboards in the sense of keyboard layouts. Rather I was referring to apps that make inputting text easier, for example Dragon Dictate, this new Braille Touch thing etc. You can't just tell iOS to use the braille input universally, because it is an app, not a service. Therefore it kind of loses the productivity boost IMHO

I get your point. Would you

I get your point. Would you even want to use such a thing anyway? I personally don't see the benefit, given the size of the screen and how many fingers you actually have to use to type. Of course, I'd assume it'd be landscape obviously, but even so. Even when using landscape, my fingers practically cover the entire screen from left to right. As the size is now on my 4S, I'd have to squash my hands uncomfortably close together and even then it leaves precious little room.

At least, if you use an iPhone. Your note regarding dictation is becoming moot, however, at least when Apple implements dictation for other languages. Given that they're supposedly using Nuance's engine, I can't imagine dictation wouldn't become available at least by keyboard given that it doesn't depend on Siri to even be active in the first place as long as the service is available on the phone to send your requests.

Go figure. :)

Braille vs. conventional typing

Just to attempt to complement what Nicolai said, as a Braille user neither do I feel quite comfortable trying to type using Braille symbols and signs on a touch screen. Not that it's bad, but perhaps it's more of a boon for tablets with larger screens. When it comes to typing, I locate letters on the screen and remove my finger to get them typed faster than trying to type a 4-letter Braille sign with 4 fingers. Personally speaking, that alone doesn't justify the use of Android for me with its myriad accessibility inadequacies even when it's offered in its purest unadulterated form on Galaxy Nexus.

Exactly. And how are you

Exactly. And how are you going to work with it if you are walking? Even if it is possible to slim it down so much it becomes usable, doing it while walking sounds pretty unlikely.

a few advantages to android

I found this post interesting, I actually have an iphone and an ipod touch and do use them at times, however, there are a few things I wanted to comment on here as well as provide a few advantages to android that IOS does not offer. As far as labeling buttons, it's good that voiceover has this, but really this is the developer's responsibility. Therefore the best way to solve this problem is to contact the developer and ask them to fix their app. Of course in some cases a developer may be unwilling to do this, and in that case, if possible, I would use another app. The advantages of android don't relate to accessibility directly and may or may not be important to each user. First, the ability to connect an android phone to a computer and it just shows up as a drive allowing files to be easily copied. For me at least, this is huge. On the iphone, the only way to transfer content is to use itunes, Icloud or something like drop box. There is no direct file management that I am aware of. Second, Android allows the use of memory cards. If you need more memory, just insert another, perhaps larger memory card. With an Iphone, you will need to either get a new one with more memory or erase some things. Third, android allows you to choose what applications are used as your default apps for different tasks. If you don't like the built in text messaging application, grab another one and it can become your default. Finally, you don't have someone else, in this case, Apple deciding what you can and cannot install on your device. Of course, you can jail break the device and get around this, but this is not something the average user will probably do. So, for most people, Apple decides what apps you are allowed to use, if they don't like an app for whatever reason, you can't use it. For me at least, I have a problem with this. Of course, in the end you have to use what works for you but I do think android does offer some major advantages.

Mike's comments

So nice to read your comments, Mike. I just want to address them here.
You said:
As far as labeling buttons, it's good that voiceover has this, but really this is the developer's responsibility. Therefore the best way to solve this problem is to contact the developer and ask them to fix their app.
//That's true. But in reality that's like saying all apps can become accessible only if developers are contacted. Currently too many inaccessible apps exist in the world of iOS and Android and not all developers respond to users' queries. In many instances, however, an app can become accessible only if its buttons are labeled and that's what VoiceOver does perfectly.
You said:
First, the ability to connect an android phone to a computer and it just shows up as a drive allowing files to be easily copied. For me at least, this is huge. On the iphone, the only way to transfer content is to use itunes, Icloud or something like drop box. There is no direct file management that I am aware of.
//Coming from Symbian and having used some Android devices, I understand how nice it is. However, with iPhone one can use iTunes or many third-party apps such as PhoneDrive or iFiles to move files from or to the device without even connecting a cable -- it can be done wirelessly. And with those third-party apps and a wireless connection, iTunes isn't needed at all. Yet again, I like that Android feature, but even with my Symbian handsets I wasn't using it as a major killer. That's more of a nicety.
You said:
Second, Android allows the use of memory cards. If you need more memory, just insert another, perhaps larger memory card.
//That's not actually true. For instance, the now popular Galaxy Nexus which offers the most unadulterated version of Android (ICS) with accessibility built in doesn't have memory card support. Neither does it support true USB-sharing features like, say, Galaxy S II as when it's connected to a Windows computer via a USB cable, one can't truly access all hidden and system-tagged files or folders. This is also true about some of the newly announced Android handsets -- they simply don't provide MEM card support. So even if I want to go Android today, my best choice would be Galaxy Nexus for obvious reasons, and that doesn't have the feature you refer to. I know many older Android handsets do support that, but, seriously, is it wise to ask blind users to get 2011 Gingerbread devices which do have MEM card support? Honestly I'm not sure if or when many of these will get ICS. Even if they do, no one is sure how accessibility might work on them -- Sony's ICS hasn't been tested, and HTC's ICS beta releases apparently aren't accessible without heavily modifying its default apps.
You said:
Third, android allows you to choose what applications are used as your default apps for different tasks. If you don't like the built in text messaging application, grab another one and it can become your default.
//While Android is more flexible regarding this, that's not entirely impossible on the iOS. For instance, though I haven't used that myself, I've heard that with certain third-party web browsers such as Atomic Web Browser one can alter the default iOS web browser. Again, I haven't tested that or other similar apps, but my theory is that if built-in apps work as expected and are accessible enough, why should I select to install a second email or text messaging app? I'd rather buy apps or install free ones which extend the functionality of my handset in unique ways not, say, install third-party ones to defeat the inaccessibility of built-in applications. I know that many Android 4 users install certain email and browsing apps just to make their handsets more accessible. That's not necessarily bad, but I don't buy that.
You said:
Finally, you don't have someone else, in this case, Apple deciding what you can and cannot install on your device. Of course, you can jail break the device and get around this, but this is not something the average user will probably do. So, for most people, Apple decides what apps you are allowed to use, if they don't like an app for whatever reason, you can't use it.
//Honestly, I don't find that problematic at all. If Apple's decisions have resulted in a more accessible experience and a less virus-free one, there's nothing wrong with that. On the one hand, Apple's App store has more apps compared with the Google Play so that doesn't mean iOS users necessarily have fewer choices. On the other, though jailbreaking isn't as easy as pressing a button, it's far more accessible and definitely less time-consuming than rooting Android handsets even if an Android manufacturer fully allows rooting. It can also be more easily undone.
Finally, while I truly respect everyone's choice of OS, I believe extraneous factors come into play only when accessibility gets properly built into the OS. In that case, Google still needs to prove that Android is on a par with iOS and, equally, that non-Google handsets, when released, are at least as accessible as the Nexus line of handsets. Needless to say, one shouldn't be forced to pay for, say, Braille support after purchasing a handset with a so-called open OS and that's what's happened to Android.

Concerning Apple deciding

Concerning Apple deciding what you can and cannot install, you forget that most consumers who do use iOS probably won't care. We've seen Google recently stepping up its review process as far as I know, and that due to various issue that arose such as viruses appearing as rogue applications on various handsets and in fact, the infections rose by a massive 472% because Google did not vet its applications. That made scammers much more able to target Android phones as opposed to iOS, which is going to matter a lot to consumers, as opposed to what you can or cannot install.

I've always asked myself what people would want to install that Apple does not allow. In the case of Siri, I can see why some would want to replace it with something like Sara which does include international support, and works a lot more consistently. I'm one of those people, especially because Apple won't let you even dictate in foreign languages despite that you can actually turn off Siri and still use supported languages when dictating. In fact, you can even, say, dictate in German or French on an iPhone set to English as long as you switch the keyboard.

In some cases, I like my walled garden, and in some cases I do not. But for me, right now at least, I prefer it. I'm pretty safe, and I can install the applications I need, so whether or not it's a disadvantage is very subjective. I truly don't think many consumers mind, and I certainly haven't heard any complaints except for the technically-minded people who want to use their iPhone as a server for whatever reason.

a few more comments

Hi there a few more things I forgot to mention along with responding to what has been said so far. True, the new galaxy nexus does not support memory cards, that's one reason I have no interest in getting it. My sony phones will be getting ICS next month, so looking forward to trying that. What concerned me about the installation of apps was, apparently at first Apple did not want to approve the bookshare app because they had made ibooks accessible and thought everyone could use that. This is why the release of this app was delayed for several months. This is uncalled for. As far as security goes, the best way to protect yourself is good old common sense, and this is each person's responsibility. If a person is unable or unwilling to do this, they probably should not have these devices. Having said all this, google is on my bad side right now. The newest version of the market, now called the play store has totally broken accessibility. The screen to update apps no longer reads and pressing enter on the items does not work. In my view, this is totally unacceptable. First, why was the market broken, and why was this not tested before it was ever released? I may see what the iphone 5 offers when it is released and I may purchase an unlocked model at that point. By the way, you can go to the top or bottom of a screen in android, holding the alt key and pressing up or down arrow will do this. Regarding voices, android does provide much more flexibility here. For some reason, Apple does not allow third party developers to use the built in voices. This is why each GPS app and the bookshare app must include their own TTS engine. Of course, on the iphone, this makes the bookshare app much larger than it is on android, and is also why the bookshare app is free on android. On Android, any application is free to use whatever is set as the default voice.

Again Mike's comments

Mike, it's good that you brought up the inaccessibility of the Google Play in pre-ICS handsets -- I was about to mention it myself. This indicates that even if Apple impose limitations, at least they make sure their native apps remain accessible. That's more important to me than the so-called flexibility provided by the competition -- I tend to call it flexibility minus accessibility.
You said:
My sony phones will be getting ICS next month, so looking forward to trying that.
//My sincere hope is that you find the Sony-modified ICS as accessible as the unmodified one on Galaxy Nexus. What I've heard from some users points to the fact that Samsung's rendering of ICS on Galaxy S II isn't on a par with that of Galaxy Nexus.
You said:
By the way, you can go to the top or bottom of a screen in android, holding the alt key and pressing up or down arrow will do this.
//Can this be done on devices like many Xperia models and the Nexus line which don't have a built-in keyboard? I think that's not the case.
You said:
Regarding voices, android does provide much more flexibility here. For some reason, Apple does not allow third party developers to use the built in voices. This is why each GPS app and the bookshare app must include their own TTS engine. Of course, on the iphone, this makes the bookshare app much larger than it is on android, and is also why the bookshare app is free on android. On Android, any application is free to use whatever is set as the default voice.
//Let's clarify a point here. As for the status of the Bookshare app on Android, I don't believe it's going to be free. What currently exists on Google Play and is being offered as a free app is a pre-beta release -- read the description taken from its page on Google Play below. BTW, the app was released almost a week ago.
Start quote:
This is the pre-beta release of the Bookshare Reader. This just came right out of the current development release. We plan to perform some heavy testing in the next couple of days. If you download this application, then please keep us informed about any challenges you encounter, or any other ideas to improve.
End quote
Rest assured once it comes out of beta, it'll become a commercial app like its iOS sibling.
As for the status of voices on Android, that's one of the things I like about Android. However, Apple's built-in voices (provided by Nuance) are much more superior to what Google provides with all Android releases in terms of audio quality and clarity. Personally speaking, I can't stand the American and British voices Google provides with ICS -- they're apparently suffering from some sort of asthma. Moreover, Apple's TTS engine supports many more languages without paying an extra penny, but all third-party Android voices come with a price. Ivona voices which are currently in beta and therefore free will soon become commercial as the beta cycle is over.

I'm not surprised that HTC's

I'm not surprised that HTC's version of ICS is not accessible, even with 2.3, they have modified the default apps, for what reason I have no idea, but it breaks accessibility in many places. That is one thing Apple definitely did right, and actually Microsoft as well, even though windows phone 7 is not currently accessible. Carriers, and in the case of windows phone, manufacturers are not permitted to mess with the operating system or the interface. I think that'sa good thing. I'm looking forward to seeing what windows 8 offers on mobile phones. The sony phones running 2.3 are very accessible, and I've already had 2 software updates since I've had them. Yes, the google play store issue is very disappointing. I could still click the update all option, but I may not want to update everything at once. There is absolutely no excuse for google doing this and I posted a strong message on the eyes-free list about this. I've heard that the bookshare app will be free for android even for the final release, not sure if that's true though. I agree with you that the voice that comes with android is awful. Even though they are not free, it's worth it to purchase some better voices. I may actually pop my sim card in to my Iphone for a while until this market thing is fixed, clearly google knows better, and what they did was very irresponsible.

My 2 cents

I'm still on Symbian, but planning to switch in june/July when I get the cash. In theory, I'm going for a 4S. In reality, I'm still not sure if I wanna go for iOS or Android.
I'll just not say what the iPhone has going for it, because I think everyone knows. Android does have advantages though, and here is what those are imho.

Contrary to many, I really dislike the Vocalizer voices. Having no alternatives is rather annoying on iOS. This isn't a problem on Android where there already are many choices, from the snappy espeak to sVox classic which is also very nice.
Also, Android phones can actually have built-in physical keyboards. Yeah, you can get iOS keyboard cases, but those have some overhead like having to manage another battery, and draining your main device due to Bluetooth. Unless they actually made one based on the doc connector, which could actually be interesting... Anyway, lastly I don't quite like The way Apple sandboxes everything. I mean, transfering files with iTunes is slow, and apps frequently have no ways of communicating in a decent and fast way. The interchangeable keyboards had already been mentioned. This also limits a lot of the speech recognition apps because they have no access to quickly handle text messages or built in alarms. This could have easily been resolved in the same way as location services or notifications with confirmation dialogs. Apple rejecting some apps just because they don't fit some kind of really pointless rule is also frustrating, so, if they don't like something for the smallest of reasons, no one gets to use it. Rather sad.
I also can't help missing a Bluetooth file transfer capability, which was removed for rather obvious reasons. But still
And something else I don't seem to recall anyone bringing up - the iPhone is not cheep to buy or maintain for that matter. Here at least the contracts are rather pricy (about 30 dollars per month), and buying an iPhone unlocked isn't cheep either.
I frequently go to Sweden where I can just swap out my sim for a Swedish one for the duration of the stay to avoid roaming. Well, with an iPhone and its Microsim that's rather difficult if you want to stay cheep.
That said I do have to say iOS did get some things right unlike Android. The lack of a dPad and keyboard resulted in excellent touch screen support. And as far as I know, without the eyes free shell, you can't easily check your battery or other status information. And the screen reader is way more mature and fully featured.
Sorry for the rather long post, but there ya go.

Clarifying Braille Touch Point

An interesting discussion. I am firmly in the IOS camp, though I admit that this is based on hearsay about Android rather than actual experience with it. My point is that this comment is not aimed at showing why Android is better, just at clarifying something.

Florian has a good point regarding the keyboard. First, to clarify, the Braille Touch app does not require your fingers to be side by side, from left to right, as Nicolai suggested. Instead, you hold the phone with the screen facing away from you, your pinky fingers rest underneath, your thumbs on the back, and you place three fingers on the side of the screen just about the home button and the other three on the side of the screen just below the handset speaker. At least, this is how it is described in some articles I've read.

http://www.tuaw.com/2012/02/20/georgia-techs-brailletouch-is-a-braille-writer-for-iphone/

So entering text is not nearly as awkward as some comments have suggested, and the research indicates that it is actually six times faster than using the virtual keyboard.

Now, Florian's point is that unless Apple decides to integrate this in IOS itself, a user will have to open this app, write the text, copy the text, open the app where they actually want the text, and then paste the text. Android users would simply make this the default keyboard input, which would mean whenever they tap on an edit field, they could input text using the Braille Touch method. This is a valid point and is a reason to prefer Android. Of course, a jailbreak might make this possible on IOS, and it is entirely possible that Apple could incorporate this input method into IOS itself.

Hope this clarifies, Marc

Peter's comments

Peter, good to read your opinions.
You said:
Contrary to many, I really dislike the Vocalizer voices. Having no alternatives is rather annoying on iOS. This isn't a problem on Android where there already are many choices, from the snappy espeak to sVox classic which is also very nice.
//Unlike you I truly hate Espeak and am not sure if it even can work under ICS -- Google has apparently updated it, but some users say it's crash-prone. When it comes to sVox vs. Vocalizer, my choice is again Vocalizer. Also, Nuance has purchased sVox and apparently it hasn't been updated for quite some time. IMO the only nice great engine available on Android is Ivona though I don't like the so-called relaxed and slow tone of its voices. Honestly I'm a big fan of ETI Eloquence and believe Vocalizer's tone is quite similar to that.
You said:
Also, Android phones can actually have built-in physical keyboards.
//Yes, but in reality how many of them actually have physical keyboards? Android-powered handsets with physical keyboards aren't necessarily the norm and by selecting one such handset one might get a mid-range cellphone at best. Outside the USA the only good option is the not-so-new Xperia Pro which is a single-core handset with Gingerbread whose ICS update has been further pushed back to late May or early June -- check here: http://www.gsmarena.com/sony_pushes_ics_update_for_midapril_ditches_ota_as_an_update_option-news-4041.php
Also, as far as I know, no new keyboard-powerd Android handset has been announced or teased for 2012 outside the USA, and when it comes to touch-screen use, iOS and VoiceOver definitely rule.
Finally, as mentioned before, my truly major gripe with Android is Google's lack of tangible commitment to accessibility. Android is already mature and deserves a better access model -- something beyond simple touch, an awkward shell and an even more awkward dPad which occupies a lot of space on the screen -- not to mention Google app updates which break accessibility. If Google can't do this on its Nexus line of handsets, why should we expect other app developers and handset manufacturers to do the same?

Even more confused. Ok, how

Even more confused.

Ok, how isn't this close to side by side though? I just read the article for the second time, even before actually writing that suggestion out on Applevis, and it still sounds hideous. Only difference I can see is that you place your hands clearly side by side, but the fingers so that they take up space between the two sides of the phone as opposed to from top to bottom. Even so, I can't see this being a very secure grip when you're actually walking and texting.

A thing I'll just have to try. I'm far from convinced. I've read the article before, even before seeing this post, but I suppose I'm just so used to and comfortable with the onscreen keyboard that this Braille just sounds very weird to me.

Also, if Apple had to integrate this, they'd have to override the VoiceOver gestures until the keyboard is switched. As far as I know, screen readers on Android don't really have any gestures, so that makes it a lot more plausible it can be made into a simple keyboard switch.

I want to see this in action, though, and by that I mean sitting with it and trying it out. Right now, I'm not seeing myself ever using this.

I'm not really a big fan of it either.

And the grip thing has me concerned, too. I think I get the consept, though. I used to think it was six keys across, like a regular Perkins-style Braille keyboard, but then I realized that the keys are actually layed out like a Braille cell, with each half on either edge of the screen when it's in landscape.

I'm also not really a fan of TypeInBraille. I think I'd give it a shot if it weren't 5 bucks, and even then, I probably wouldn't be very satisfied. They're neat ideas, though.

Complications of choosing an Android phone

Hi! As someone who bought my first iPhone last year, I admit to being an IOS convert, so I have no plans to even try out an Android phone: however, I have read this blog entry, and the discussion it has generated, with interest. One thing I have got out of it is that, however good it may be that Android is an open-source platform, this leads to making the choice about an Android phone rather complicated, at least it seems so to me. In the world of IOS, every iPhone from the 3GS upwards is accessible, but, with Android, things seem to be far more patchy, with different models becoming accessible at different times: this must make things far more difficult when blind people want to buy an Android phone, since they must find out exactly which companies are making accessible phones, whether said phones are available in their country, and, if they want to get their phone through their carrier, whether the carrier stocks exactly the model they want. Assuming I've understood right that Ice-Cream Sandwich is the most accessible version of the Android operating system so far, I hope, for the sake of all potential Android users, that every Android handset will have it in the end, which isn't yet the case as far as I can tell from what I've read here. I'm not saying this to put people off Android, but it would certainly have made things easier for Android users if all such phones had been given the accessible operating system when it was released, assuming that would have been possible. There may be practical reasons why this didn't happen, but I still don't envy any blind Android buyer hunting for an accessible phone.

Further Clarifying

Hi Nicolai,

You wrote,

"Ok, how isn't this close to side by side though? I just read the article for the second time, even before actually writing that suggestion out on Applevis, and it still sounds hideous. Only difference I can see is that you place your hands clearly side by side, but the fingers so that they take up space between the two sides of the phone as opposed to from top to bottom. Even so, I can't see this being a very secure grip when you're actually walking and texting."

Based on this description, I'm not sure we imagine it working the same way. The phone is held in landscape, the screen is facing away from you. The top of the phone, i.e., where the headphone jack and lock button are, is pressed into your palms just below your fingers. The end with the speaker and microphone is similarly placed in your left hand. Your pinky fingers rest underneath the phone, i.e., on the side where the volume buttons are. And your thumbs can either grip the opposite side of where your pinky fingers are or they can simply rest on the back of the phone. This will leave six fingers on the screen, three near the home button and three near the status menu. They take the shape of a braille cell. On your left hand, the ring finger is above the home button and close to the side where your pinky fingers are, the middle is above the home button, and the index is near the opposite side of where your pinky fingers are. The fingers on your right hand are similarly arranged near the status menu. I imagine dots 1, 2, 3, correspond to the ring, middle, and index fingers of your left hand respectively. Dots 4, 5, and 6 correspond to the ring, middle, and index of your right hand respectively.

I admit that this feels more comfortable and secure in a case, but it feels fine to me even without a case. I'm not very good at braille, but even I, when I'm pretending to type with this method, notice that it is much faster. The issue is you no longer have to look for the letter you want and then confirm it. Every letter basically has a gesture attached to it. Even if you are so good with the virtual keyboard that you always find the letter you want the very first time you put your finger on the keyboard and never have to move your finger around to find the letter, something most would find impossible, you still have to wait for VO to announce the letter. With braille touch, this isn't necessary. The virtual keyboard involves finding a letter and then confirming it, either by double tapping, split tapping, or lifting your finger. It's always a two-step process. Braille touch is more like a keyboard, you tell it what letter you want by tapping a particular key in the case of a keyboard, or, in the case of Braille Touch, by performing a certain gesture, e.g., both ring fingers down at the same time for the letter C,.

Of course one would need to try this before knowing if it is more efficient for that person. Based on my playing around with the concept, and based on the fact that it is a one-step rather than a two-step process, I'm inclined to believe the research claims that it can improve typing speed by up to six times.

All of this sort of misses the point, though. It's not whether you or I would use this method. There is evidence to suggest that this system of inputing text could be very useful for many, particularly for blind people, and implementing system-wide integration of this input method would presumably be easier on Android, and this is a perfectly good reason to prefer Android. I do hold out hope, though, that Apple will figure out a way to integrate this input method into IOS.

Best,

Marc

Selecting Android on the basis of a Braille keyboard?

@mworkman:
There is evidence to suggest that this system of inputing text could be very useful for many, particularly for blind people, and implementing system-wide integration of this input method would presumably be easier on Android, and this is a perfectly good reason to prefer Android. I do hold out hope, though, that Apple will figure out a way to integrate this input method into IOS.
//Personally speaking, I can't imagine how that one-step process which you outlined based on that article can be more comfortable and secure than the current approach where we can find a key and release it to have it typed. Moreover, I don't believe simply because Android allows the selection of keyboards in different apps serves as a convincing reason to prefer it to iOS. As I mentioned earlier, as techy as I am and as much as I love tinkering with my OS and apps, Android's flexibility isn't enough to justify its use instead of iOS unless the default Android screen reader is significantly enhanced -- at least on the few handsets which offer plain-vanilla Android. Complications and delays in updating Android aside, just take a look at a well-known Eyes-Free email list to see how many people actually have ICS, how many people advocate the use of Android instead of iOS, and how many people are complaining about the status quo.

it's only one reason to prefer Android

Hi Amir,

You wrote,

"Personally speaking, I can't imagine how that one-step process which you outlined based on that article can be more comfortable and secure than the current approach where we can find a key and release it to have it typed."

I don't believe I, or anyone else, said it was a more comfortable and secure way of inputing text. I said it was more comfortable and secure with a case on the phone, but that it was fine without one, but I'm pretty sure I didn't suggest the process was more comfortable and secure than typical text entry.

What I did suggest, and I stand by this, is that it is very likely, at least for anyone who knows Braille, a faster way of entering text. My evidence for this is the research mentioned in the articles and the fact that it is a one-step process whereas typical typing on a virtual keyboard is inherently a two-step process.

I believe I was also trying to argue that this Braille Touch method was not as uncomfortable or insecure as it seemed like some in this thread were making it out to be, but that is not the same as saying it is more comfortable and secure than the typical text entry method.

You also wrote,

"Moreover, I don't believe simply because Android allows the selection of keyboards in different apps serves as a convincing reason to prefer it to iOS. As I mentioned earlier, as techy as I am and as much as I love tinkering with my OS and apps, Android's flexibility isn't enough to justify its use instead of iOS unless the default Android screen reader is significantly enhanced -- at least on the few handsets which offer plain-vanilla Android."

I don't want to be overly semantic, but saying that flexibility is one reason to prefer Android is not the same as saying that Android is better than IOS or even that Android is to be preferred to IOS. I only said that flexibility, with the Braille Touch as one example of such flexibility, is a perfectly good reason to prefer Android. There are other reasons to prefer Android as well, but, in my opinion, there are far more reasons to prefer IOS. Preferring IOS overall, though, doesn't mean I cannot acknowledge the good reasons that exist for preferring Android.

Braille support

In reading the initial post, I interpreted "Braille support for those who need it," as refering to physical Braille displays, rather than on screen Braille entry...
To the best of my, admitedly, limited, Android use, there is no support for physical Braille displays, while VoiceOver allows access to a varriety of bluetooth Braille displays.
Apple certainly appears to be in the forefront, when considering the addition of a bluetooth Braille display, however, I also hope people recognise a few of the limitations as well.
For example, if a second letter is not pressed in a set amount of time, the text editor interprets the letter as a word. I was hesitant in typing the word,, "for," one afternoon, and what appeared on the screen was "fromoutrather"
I have also experienced, while typing with a bluetooth display, if I misspell something, say, just the last letter of a word, delete the last character, and type the appropriate character, I end up with the entire "whole word" for the letter I typed...
Second example being, I mis-typed "thanks," i accidently typed a "t" instead of an "s." after deleting the "t", and typing the "s" what showed up in text was "thankso"
I have also been unable to locate a method of typing characters like @, a symbol I use frequently... When I read it in Braille, it appears as a dot 4, but when I type a dot 4, a tylde mark appears... This may just be my nievety, and lack of time to "look it up," but it is a problem...
My Android experience, for the record *smile* is one afternoon, a year or so ago, with a Samsun Intersept, and talk back, then Mobile Accessibility... using talkback I accidently dialed my new husbands ex-girlfriend because I did not get necesary feedback from the device... adding Mobile Accessibility to the device was a DISASTER! the phone could not handle the App, and locked up... He couldn't use his phone for the rest of the day... I don't know what he did to reset it, but he lost all contacts... needless to say, I didn't have to worry about the ex's number any more *smile* This specific experience prompted me to keep using my slow, semi-accessible, Windows Mobile 6 phone until the IPhone 4s was released...

Semantic and realistic differences

@mworkman:
I don't want to be overly semantic, but saying that flexibility is one reason to prefer Android is not the same as saying that Android is better than IOS or even that Android is to be preferred to IOS. I only said that flexibility, with the Braille Touch as one example of such flexibility, is a perfectly good reason to prefer Android. There are other reasons to prefer Android as well, but, in my opinion, there are far more reasons to prefer IOS. Preferring IOS overall, though, doesn't mean I cannot acknowledge the good reasons that exist for preferring Android.
//We seem to be in the same boat regarding this. I was also trying to indicate that I believe as far as our own use of an operating system is concerned, accessibility, usability and the proper integration of a built-in screen reader into the OS are the major factors that count -- especially if we're to recommend it for mainstream use. That OS might be as open, skinned and fragmented as Android, or it might be as walled, guarded and organized as iOS. So if Talkback becomes as polished and feature-rich as VoiceOver and, along the same lines, if it can run on other skinned releases of Android and provide the same degree of access, only then the "flexibility" factor would come into play.

Sounds like I got it right

What Marc is describing is actually what I was attempting to describe as well, but not doing so well at it.

I just tried it again though, but it just doesn't feel as secure as holding the phone cupped in my left palm and wrapping the fingers of my left hand around the edges to safely secure it in Portrait. That's really going to be my main concern. Still, it sounds kind of intriguing, but as I said, I'd like to try it first before making judgments and before deciding it'll be useful for me at all.

I'm a fast typist, but anything to possibly improve my typing would be welcome regardless of how well I do.

further comments

I am an IPhone user. I would like a phone with a keypad as for much of what I want, when it comes to a phone, this is hard to beat. The reality is however that we are being dragged down a touch screen route so I wonder how long phones running the latest version of Android with a specific keyboard will be available?

There is another thread on this list about patents though and this is fairly crucial. In brief, if Google introduced a flick gesture there is a serious chance that this would result in yet another law suit. Patenting ideas is intended to stop one company steeling the ideas of another and copying products without having to take on board costs such as research etc. This is fine but companies are becoming increasingly irresponsible. I'm not a lawyer but this is probably why Android is not more similar to Apple IOS in the way it works.

In brief, Apple products tend to be smoother and more seamless but apple is very restrictive. Android is more flexible but as a result it is much more fragmented.

In my view both apple and manufacturers using android have lost sight of the fact that while these extra applications are extremely useful, for many people the phone is still the most important and core app. I would love a home screen with telephone functionality and a menu button used to get at other apps. Symbian and Windows Mobile tried to take this approach but windows mobile was badly written though I can't comment on symbian on touch screen phones as I have never used it but I hear accessibility with third party apps such as Talks is becoming increasingly unreliable.

Yet more on TTS options

For those who think Android's flexibility has resulted in better TTS engines for use in ICS (Android 4) I suggest taking a look at this thread. Again, I prefer something like Nuance's Vocalizer TTS engine -- the comprehensive engine behind VoiceOver -- which simply works as opposed to the openness which, as of yet, hasn't produced a tangible difference in TTS access. It's also worth mentioning that both Loquendo and SVox are now owned by Nuance, so it's not clear if they're to be further updated and sold on Android. In general Nuance tends to license its TTS engines rather than sell them as separate apps to single users.

Android is far behind iOS in

Android is far behind iOS in respect of accessibility. Especially regarding the quality of built in voices and ease of navigation. My language is Russian and the third party voice for Android is really repulsive. While Apple adds support for such languages as estonian and finish. Another advantage is that Apple is issuing updates for older devices. I'm using iPhone 3gs and recent iOS 5.11 improved battery life and stability.

Hi,I would like to make two

Hi,
I would like to make a few points.
Firstly, regarding jailbreaking, I do it for several reasons, firstly I guess I just don't like apple deciding what is good for me and what I can and can't have on my phone. I also do it because I like to do things such as hide most of the default apps, and remove items from the status bar, all cosmetic tweaks yes, and I got on fine without a jailbreak before one was out for iOS 5, and since having to update to 5.1.1 because of a crash, but it is nice to have full control of the look and layout and feel of my phone.
I suspect that although apple publicly dislike jailbreaking and fix holes that allow it to happen, that they always will leave an avenue for people who write jailbreaks to develop them, they have actually taken ideas that were first popular as jailbreaks and moved them into the mainstream, they use jailbreaking as a way of finding out what users want.

Secondly, it isn't so hard to copy and paste files to the iPhone without the use of itunes, there are of course various utilities that can do it wirelessly, allowing access to individual app directories so you can just paste files into their documents folders providing the app doesn't use a database to manage files.
I have a utility which lets me easily move files over USB into app directories, as I prefer to have as little contact with itunes as possible.
Interestingly, although jailbreaking is popular and does bypass all of apples security measures there still hasn't been any real development of malware and viruses for iOS, so the lack of security doesn't bother me particularly.
In fact, I have just been reading a very interesting book on iOS security called the iOS hackers handbook, which describes how security works in iOS, finding bugs and vulnerabilities, and how jailbreaks work, along with how bugs once found have been exploited in the past. Ironically its available in the itunes store. the statistics are very scary, if you use a simple 4 digit pass code as most users do, it can be cracked using correct tools in about 18 minutes.
Also, all iPhones have the same default password for being able to log into the phone and issue commands through a console interface, needless to say I have changed that default password.
My only point I am making, is that you are not as safe in your walled garden as you might think if the phone can be compromised, although the sandbox does offer a lot of protection, along with different privilege levels for apps, ALSR, dep, code signing, and some other protection which I can explain a lot more about if people are interested.

To bring this post back on topic, one thing I think apple really has going for it, is they provide comprehensive documentation for developers that tells them exactly what is needed to make apps accessible, and gives them the tools to do it, so we can just give developers a website which explains to them in technical language what is needed that the majority of users might not have language to describe enough to be useful to developers.
I think I am right in saying google doesn't provide this sort of documentation for android.
The other thing with android of course is that they are keen on cloud integration, whereas apple seems to provide less emphasis on it, and I actually don't use I cloud at all.
I heard on a list recently, that any documents you upload to the cloud on google are scanned by them so they can target you with advertising.

From a new iOS convert

I've had my iPhone for exactly two weeks. Before that I had a Galaxy S running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread.) I read with interest the discussions of ICS accessibility and listened to some demos, but I got the distinct impression that though accessibility was improved I would still run into problems that iPhone users didn't seem to be having. Just as my upgrade eligibility date was arriving, I started having more problems with my phone. I had switched from Mobile Accessibility to Talk Back with the Eyes-Free shell, but still used Mobile Accessibility for the things it was easier for. One day for no discernable reason it decided that it was unlicenced and I couldn't use it anymore. That combined with a rather annoying bug in Eyes-Free that dropped apps that resided on my SD card every time the phone was restarted prompted me to make the switch. I will never look back.

Everything on the phone worked and was relatively easy to figure out. I did have to read the documentation before getting some of the more advanced functions, but right away I was comfortable with the phone. I know I'm preaching to the choir here on an Apple forum, but there is no way I would recommend an Android phone to a blind user after using an iPhone. Largely due to the information here on this site, I have been able to find all the apps I need. Thanks in part to that Apple control, which I too find a little disturbing, the chances of apps being accessible are much greater. Yes, there are still problems, but far less of them. Even an older refurbished iPhone would be better than anything in the Android world right now in my opinion, though I admit to never having had my hands on an ICS device.

Re: From a new iOS convert

Hi Larry. Your points are all interesting. Having seen ICS in action myself, I can say that Google is currently trying to improve its Talkback screen reader and EyesFree keyboard by releasing betas to the visually impaired community. That's not bad at all -- in fact, some might even argue that such a channel of communication between users and developers is fruitful. However, ICS wasn't accessible in the first place; meaning Google is now releasing betas after what it calls "Stable releases" which don't make ICS optimally accessible in and out of themselves without the need to get these alphas. So the problem is that once Android 5 is released, if Google doesn't alter its "access strategy" again access features will be added as an afterthought, largely treating the bisually impaired community as beta testers for those. Herein lies the distinction between Apple and Google. The separation of Talkback and EyesFree keyboard and lack of many access features there aside, you might find it very interesting and strange to know that even getting something like the Galaxy Nexus to provide you with direct and quick Android updates isn't enough! Check here for more on that.

Jailbreak FTW!

Alex, what is that program you use to copy files into app directories? How does this work? Why might I want to copy a file into an app's directory? I'm assuming this avoids things like iTunes transfer--I could never figure out how on Earth to work that. It just confused me.

What are the tweeks/apps you use to hide/remove Apple apps from your jailbroken device?
Siri Toggle! I think that's what it's called. I wish you could use it to pare with your BT keyboard, not just turn on/off bluetooth/wireless/airplain mode. Maybe that'll be an update. I wonder if it could do it if you gave your keyboard a name using Windows. That would be a feature worth putting into the tweek.

Shersey

Aspects to make the diference.

hi Guys I don't to say wich is better Android oS or I OS, just I would lide to share some points to make the Diference:
Devices
Proceser
Apps
Battery Life
Accessories
Accessibility
Durable
so maybe you have seen the fallowing videos but if you don't enjoy and I respect yourself opinion. check the news accessibility for android 4.0 called Ice Cream sandweech!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnw8vh9y36Q&feature=youtube_gdata_player
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx_8xUjC_xU&feature=youtube_gdata_player
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2tT4jDRfWs&feature=youtube_gdata_player