Do people think the Seeing AI selector is difficult to use?

iOS & iPadOS

Hi all,
I just wanted to illicit some comments from Seeing AI users to the selector for the different programs that is situated at the bottom of the Seeing AI screen. Like similar selectors in other apps I find it difficult to use and to select the required program. I usually find that ittakes me some time to find the program I want. Usually I slide my finger up and down several times before I get anywhere near and then I begin getting really frustrated.
For example, yesterday I was looking to try out the new handwriting program but it took me a minute or so to find it. I kept going to the new colour reader which started talking straight away with different colours as I moved the phone aroud whilst getting annoyed and then I went straight to the light detector... really frustrating.
Therefore, is everyone fine with the way the selector works at present or should I ask the developer (and Microsoft) to make some changes?
Would a series of tabs across the bottom of the screen be better, a menu down the home screen or is it fine as it is?





Submitted by Michael Hansen on Monday, December 18, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hi Steve,

Instead of actually sliding your finger up and down to move through the channel slider/picker, try swiping up or down with one finger. Each swipe up or down should move you forward or backward one channel.

Hope this helps,

Submitted by steven carey on Monday, December 18, 2017

Hi Michael,
Thank you for giving me some help. However, from hat you say, that's exactly what I am doing. I also asked my sighted son to have a look and he thinks the same. I can use other similar selectors/pickers but I don't find it easy.
Perhaps as a blind person who has lost some sensitivity through diabetis is the issue? However, I use the HIVE app all the time to adjust times and temperatures without much trouble as I get a clicking noise as I adjust but this does not seem to happen with Seeing AI.


Submitted by Larry Thacker Jr. on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I don’t find the picker particularly dificult, but if they continue to add functions it will become cumbersome. For the same reason, a tabbed interface becomes problematic the more tricks they throw in. Maybe a better approach would be to put up a sheet with all the features on it. People would learn approximately where on the screen the items they use are located and it would be faster than using a picker. Perhaps the items could be moved around like on the share sheet. Given the likelihood that most of us have just a few favorites that we go to, a way to set those as shortcuts at the bottom of the screen could be added. I’m sure this app will only get better with time. It’s already replaced KNFB on my home screen.

Submitted by Seanoevil on Tuesday, December 19, 2017


I can't say that I find swiping up and down through the picker particularly bothersome.
With each swipe moving me one channel at a time, if I swipe fast enough, all that I hear is the channel names.
Steve, One helpful tip may be to use 3D touch from your Home Screen. The App Settings allow you to pre-select 4 favourite channels for the 3D Touch menu. Then, when you use 3D touch you can select which channel the App will open into.



Submitted by mich on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

yes I think that tabs or buttens down the boddem or some sort of menu would be good since like you I find it frustrating to keep on swiping up to find the proper program that I am trying to use in the seeing eye app.

Submitted by PaulMartz on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Hi. You said you were going to Handwriting but it took you a minute to find it then you ended up with the Color Identifier. I can't reproduce any issue like this. I bring focus to the channel selector, then swipe up a few times until I get to Handwriting. It takes me less than 5 seconds to get there. Then I'm on Handwriting and not on Color Identifier.

Is it possible that your screen is dirty?

Submitted by Anirudh Koul on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hi folks, this is Anirudh from the Seeing AI team. As Paul, Pete, Larry and Michael mentioned, swiping up or down is usually pretty fast to get to the channel of your choice. Right now, it has 9 channels. As we add more, we do foresee it would take a bit of effort to reach the end. We do plan to give some sort of control to the user to help organize the channels, so you can customize which channels to come first and which to come later.

One good news, the app now supports 3D touch. When you select Seeing AI app, if you press hard press the screen for a few seconds, it will open a channel list with 4 channels right there. This is a quick way to reach the channel you intended directly. Another news, in 2.0 release, we made it customizable, so if you go to Settings within the app, you can choose which channels would you like to show earlier and which later in 3D touch. One side note is 3D Touch is a hardware feature introduced in iPhone 6S and onwards.

Submitted by LaBoheme on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

<<<We do plan to give some sort of control to the user to help organize the channels, so you can customize which channels to come first and which to come later.>>>

there is one very simple tweak you could do: make the app open to last channel used either by default or an option to do this in settings. right now, short text always comes up at launch. i know most people just love this channel, but what if one who doesn't really care much for it and has to wade through every time...

Submitted by steven carey on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hi all,
Thank you for the interesting comments. As I suggested in the title of this note I'm in the minority.
As I said before, it might have something to do with finger sensitivity due to diabetes.
A dirty screen is not the issue as I clean it every other day and as I have an iPhone 6 I cannot use the 3D touch feature (waiting until I can afford an 'X' or until Apple bring out a new iPhone which is a little heaper with an LCD screen).
I also note the answer from the Seeing AI developer which is helpful and I'll try and place the most used items first. As I am in the UK I have not had Seeing AI long and so some more practice with the pcker might also help.



Submitted by Seanoevil on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hi Steve,
There's nothing wrong with being in the minority, and your questions sparked some interesting views.
Keep the ideas coming...

Submitted by Susie B on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Well, guess I am part of the minority, too, because I find the app frustrating also. Aside from the issue of poor layout, the app will refuse to move through the channel selections with the one finger up/down gesture. It just makes a clunk noise. The only way I have found to get it working again is to do a hard reboot by holding the home button and power button at the same time.
I do like the idea of the app opening to the last channel that was used.

Submitted by steven carey on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hi again,
Although I should be working to try and get my Ph.D thesis finished, I cannot stop keep coming back to this site to see if there are any further comments.
Just another thought though. I wonder how the Seeing AI team came up with the idea for a picker rather than using one of the standard Apple layouts with tabs or menus? I've had a quick look through the hundred or so apps on my phone and the only time when I have found pickers is to adjust in-app figures. For example, as I said before I have the home control app HIVE which has pickers to adjust the temperature of my heating and the time my hot water is on. I do admit that some apps (like Overdrive) does use pickers to make adjustments to whether I want audio or e-books but I still find these problematic to use in spite of having clicks every time I move from one figure/item to the next. I'm sure there are many more examples of where pickers are used for a variety of functions but I cannot find any. Interested to find out though why the Seeing AI team went for this system?


Submitted by sockhopsinger on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I like the picker. I think once you get used to how it works, it is very simple to use, and if you can remember where the channel you want to use is, you can easily swipe the appropriate number of times once the picker is in focus. One thing I haven't tried is doing a three-fingered swipe on the picker. Many times, that will cause the picker to jump by seven or eight items at a time, so if you get a longer and longer list of items, that might be a quick solution. Stephen, I'm curious if maybe because you are using an iPhone 6, maybe some of the features are not accessible? I am assuming you are using iOS11, so maybe the 6 is puttingsome limitations on you? I don't know if this is possible, but just wanted to throw that out there. Whatever happens, I wish you luck with the app.

Submitted by PaulMartz on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

With a tab UI the benefit would be that the user could quickly drag to the control. Presumably this would be faster than swiping through the picker. However, the disadvantage of the tab UI is that the user has to double-tap to select the control, whereas with the picker, no additional selection is required beyond swiping to the desired channel. Another disadvantage of a tab UI is that the screen real estate is limited.

If there were clear benefits to the tab UI, I'd support switching to it. But it seems to be a mixed bag, and the current picker plus 3D Touch already works, so changing to a new UI seems risky.

Submitted by Fred on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

When I enable the color channel in Seeing AI and focus on an object, such as a solid color shirt, Seeing AI continues to blurt out various colors brown, blue, multicolor, black etc. I'm not moving the camera, just hovering over the shirt . Is it wanting me to pick out my favorite color or what?

Submitted by Mani on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Maybe the SeeingAI team can spend time on usability for all situations, minority or otherwise. Maybe tabs is a good solution despite the extra double tap. We could customize the tabs to show the oft used features with the rest delegated to a 'More'. I am sure a fine solution could be reached.

Submitted by steven carey on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hi again guys,
Thank you for all the interesting comments. I've had a good play with the app over the last hour or so and I can now see the advantages of a picker system over that of tabs or a menu.
However, although I've tried my hardest to get used to the picker I don't always fall in the correct place and I'm still getting a bit frustrated.
I don't think its anything to do with the version of iPhone I have because I've had the same problem since my phone was new, especially when having to select picker items from a list i.e. the Drugs app is a good example where you are required to pick drug doses whilst I am using the latest version of IOS. I've come to the conclusion therefore that it must be me.
Great thread though.


Submitted by Lysette Chaproniere on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

I don’t quite understand the problem you’re having with this. Do you have any problems flicking up/down to move to the previous or next rotor setting? You should be able to use exactly the same gesture for the picker. I wondered whether the tutorial screen that comes up the first time you select each channel might be confusing you (it confused me the first time I tried it) but if it’s a problem you’re having with pickers in general then perhaps not.

Submitted by Piotr Machacz on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I can definitely see how adjusting the picker might be problematic with limited dexterity. Personally, I like the way the app works now, but as far as alternative suggestions for how this could be changed I can think of 3.

The first is what someone suggested with tabs, probably limited to 4, plus a "more" tab for all the stuff that doesn't fit on the tab bar, with an Edit button to rearrange what's displayed. This wouldn't be as fast as the picker, but channels would still be relatively quick to activate once you memorise the tab positioning, taking only 2 taps at most (1 to focus the tab and a double-tap to select it).

A second suggestion which I personally don't care much for is the Hamburger style menu that Google popularised. That is, a "Menu" button in the top left that opens a separate screen with all the channels listed vertically, plus the settings option could probably be moved here. The reason I don't care much for it is that these kind of menus just take too many taps to use, 1 tap to focus the menu button, a double-tap to open it, then another tap to focus the channel you want and finally a double-tap to actually switch to it.

My final suggestion is simply to turn the channels into pages, and keep the picker. So, just like on the home screen you can either change pages by finding the "page x of y" picker and swipe up/down on it, or just use 3-finger flicks left and right from anywhere to switch pages. The same thing could be done in seeing AI, keep the channel picker but also let you change channels by using the 3-finger left/right scrolling gestures.

Submitted by Frankd on Wednesday, December 20, 2017

As a consequence of NS, I have had to switch from being a right handed person to a lefty. Despite the loss of dexterity I find the picker straight forward to use. I'm using Seeing AI on an iPhone SE with no difficulty at all.
I agree with others who think that menus or tabs would make channel selection unnecassarily cumbersome.
Steven, it sounds like you might have to work on your picker skills a little.

Submitted by LaBoheme on Wednesday, December 20, 2017

at least since the latest version, the app does launch to the last channel used, so my only gribe with this app has been solved.

Submitted by steven carey on Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Hi again all,
A good range of comments here and the conclusion I have reached is that the majority of people like the picker.
Although I'm not a fan at all I will continue practicing as Frankd suggests and I will try and get more used to it.
Other than that, I believe that the Seeing AI app is great. I've tried out the handwriting program now (managed to get to it at last) and it is more or less pretty accurate.
I've spent a brilliant half hour or so going through our Christmas cards and I now know who they are from without getting support from my wife. That's got to be a real plus because as far as I know, this is the only accessible app for VI people that can make out handwritten text.


Submitted by DPinWI on Wednesday, December 20, 2017

On my phone, the app always launches to Short Text, and does not appear to remember the last channel I used.

I am looking forward to the ability to edit the shortcut menu. I have been using the currency identifier instead of the LookTel app, and I would like to be able to put that in my short cut menu. Or, have it default as my last used channel.

Either way, this app is likely to replace a few apps on my phone in the near future.

Submitted by peter on Wednesday, December 20, 2017

First, I like the idea of the picker - A quick simple way to navigate through choices.

Unfortunately, as some others have reported, I am finding this interface buggy on my iPhone 6. Flicking up/down through the picker list doesn't seem to be reliable as it is with other apps. Also there are times when using VoiceOver with this app that buttons and items on the screen just won't talk. Sometimes all I will hear is a click. Sometimes closing the app and then reopening it will get speaking to start again.

Overall this is a great app with a simple and clean interface that is easy to navigate, it just needs to be a bit more robust when reading with VoiceOver.


Submitted by Chuck Winstead on Thursday, December 21, 2017

There are many ways they could go about making it better, and especially more managing when there are extra programs added.
They could have a window when the app opens to have you select your program, and when you need another tap a button to bring that window back, but this would add extra steps. Which isn't necessarily effective.
They could also try using something like a page scrolling gesture. Like a two or three finger swipe.
The tabs is another idea, but the more programs added the more clutter that tab bar will become.
This is a good idea, and if more programs are added this would be the smartest idea in my book. Use the twist gesture that is used like in the voiceover controls. Just keeps the app more clean.

Submitted by Kelly on Thursday, December 21, 2017

I like the use of the picker for changing channels, and find that it works well for me. The only thing that I would like is the ability to change the order of the channels that appear in the picker, as Anirudh mentioned. Also, maybe the ability to select or deselect the channels that are included. An interface for doing this similar to that found in the iOS Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Rotor screen would be ideal.

Submitted by Blaster on Friday, December 21, 2018

I just wanted to drop in my 2 cents. I was previously unable to use the Seeing AI picker when I first started using it. I went bonkers trying to get that little guy to budge. I don't know if this is an actual issue or if I just got lucky, but when the rotor option was in anything other than character mode the picker didn't work very well or sometimes even at all, but once in character mode all works as described. What an amazing app!


Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Saturday, December 22, 2018

In reply to by Anirudh Koul

Hi. It is a nice app, sister who is not blind found the app and she likes it. Suggest that you may wish to add a favor so we can add those channels that we like more and use all the times. I deleted my money app because the app can tell me about what I have. Congratulation in once again becoming the best of the applevis.

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Saturday, December 22, 2018

I like the third option from this post, to be able to do the three finger swipe either left or right to change channels. This would allow the app to have as many pages as needed, no matter how many channels may be added in the future. I also have no issues with the picker items.

Submitted by Shersey on Saturday, December 22, 2018

I think what may be happening with your up and down flicks is that you're not doing it quickly enough, and the phone is inturpreting the flick as you dragging your finger. Do you have problems performing the right or left flicks? You’re up and down flicks should be like your left and right flicks, as if you were trying to flick a piece of dust off your screen. Hope this helps.


Submitted by Ekaj on Saturday, December 22, 2018

I recently downloaded this app and like it a lot. I have a slight motor-coordination issue too, and it's taken me a bit of time to get used to all these iPhone gestures. Seeing AI doesn't seem to save the position for me either as far as which channel I'm on, but I'm comfortable now with the picker. The only issue I've had though with this app is getting my iPhone lined up correctly when attempting to scan a product. But I'm sure this will improve with practice. Thank you Microsoft for developing such a wonderful app, and I'm looking forward to future enhancements. I haven't yet explored 3d touch, but that is definitely on my list of things to do in the coming year.