Listen to TAS Episode 2: Ice Cream Squircle

 

Sponsored in Part by Vanda Pharmaceuticals: Improve your sleep quality and possibly make money at the same time.

 

Ice Cream Sandwich

It took a little longer to defrost this episode, however, all the information on Android 4.0 was sure worth the wait!

 

Here’s the official information from the Android 4.0 Developer Highlights Page

 

But a shorter version can be found at Tech Crunch’s rundown of Android 4 features

 

Want to relive the Hong Kong event? Watch the TWIT Specials 96: Coverage of Samsung Google Event from October 18th

 

And the coverage continued on All About Android 30 from TWIT

 

And a new phone was on hand to demo the new version of Android Take a look at the Samsung Nexus S Hands On From Engadget

 

Not able to upgrade to the newest version of Android? : Here’s how to Get the Best Features of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Now  via Lifehacker

 

Also you may want to read about the other new upcoming hardware with this hands-on with the Motorola Droid Razr and the “Motoactv

 

You can keep up on the latest Android news from the official Twitter account

 

Spotlight Feature

 

Ana took a serious look at this top 30 android Apps article and below are some of her impressions on their level of access.

 

This summer,  _Lifehacker_ posted a list of thirty must-have Android apps guaranteed to turn our phones into powerhouses. We decided to check these apps out for accessibility, and we found that about half are accessible.

 

For most of these apps, there are accessible alternatives. We can help make the others accessible to screen reader users by testing them ourselves and sending the developers specific suggestions.

 

The must-have apps are divided into the following categories: Productivity, Internet/Communication, Location-Aware, Utilities, Media, Food and Entertainment, Art and Photography, and Extended Pack (a couple of extras).

 

Productivity

 

  1. Evernote: Evernote I was unable to test this information syncing and sharing app because I wasn’t able to get past the capcha during registration. This isn’t a good sign, but it doesn’t mean the app is inaccessible. Often the login process is the most inaccessible part of an ap.
  2. Springpad: This app for taking notes, web snippets, and audio recordings, saving them for future reference, is not very accessible mostly because many commands ultimately lead to a web view.
  3. Astrid: This to-do list organizer and manager is probably usable since most controls and fields are properly labeled and focusable, but the UI isn’t intuitive to screen reader users. Learning to use the app would involve some trial and error.
  4. Mint: this app for managing money and finances is not accessible because fields and controls are not focusable or consistently labeled.

 

Internet/Communication

 

  1. Dolphin Browser HD: This web browser is not accessible. The only Android browsers known to be accessible are Ideal Web Reader by Ideal Group and the Accessible Web browser by Code Factory.
  2. Google Voice: This app for managing voicemail, SMS messages, and low-cost ( or in some cases, free) calls is reported to be fairly accessible by some Eyes-Free Android users.
  3. Twitter for Android: The stock Twitter app is not accessible because the tweets themselves are not spoken. More accessible alternatives are Seesmic and Swift. Tweetcaster is reported accessible, but sighted help is needed to sign in and authorize the app.
  4. Google+: Google’s new social network has hit and miss accessibility. If you sit with it patiently for a day or two, you can learn to handle basic tasks, but if you leave it for a week, you need to rediscover where you touched the screen to access unfocusable controls and text fields. Even so, there is definitely room for growth.

 

Location-Aware

 

  1. Google Maps and Navigation: Navigation, which gives turn-by-turn guidance, is very accessible and self-explanatory. For a list of directions, wait for the guidance to begin, press menu, and press the selector on More, then on Directions list. Maps, which does the same while also displaying a map, is accessible, but there are a couple of tricky areas. To get directions or guidance, launch Maps, press menu, and press the selector on Directions. Give the phone a moment to load the screen. Then type your end point and check the box for the type of directions you want (e.g., driving, walking, etc). Now you’re ready to start guidance or get a list of directions. To start guidance, press the selector on the unlabeled button next to Get Directions. To scroll through a list of directions, press the selector on Get Directions; then touch the lower left-hand corner of the screen, something which takes a little practice.
  2. ReQall: This to-do list and task management suite, which requires users to set up an account, is reported to be quite accessible by a member of the Eyes-Free Android users list.

 

Utilities

 

  1. Titanium Backup: This comprehensive backup utility is reported to be accessible by some members of the eyes-Free Android users list.
  2. Dropbox: This file syncing and storage solution is completely accessible and easy to use.
  3. Swype: This virtual keyboard is not accessible. The only standalone soft keyboard known to be accessible is TouchType. Talkback and Mobile Accessibility each include an accessible virtual keyboard.
  4. Tasker: I was unable to test this task automater app because I had trouble downloading the free trial.
  5. Voice Search: This virtual assistant is mostly accessible, but it’s got a few quirks. You can say, “Call Wendy,” “Email Frank,” “Get directions to Starbucks,” “Search for sock knitting patterns,” and Text Cecile.” The biggest  quirk is that the screen reader speaks when you’re supposed to. To silence it, either use a headset or place your hand over the proximity sensor right before you launch the app. Once the phone gets used to your voice, it often correctly interprets what you say even when you’re talking over the screen reader. When texting or emailing someone, you don’t have much time to speak the actual message, so you need to press the selector on an unlabeled button to speak each additional sentence, remembering to speak punctuation, of course. When searching the web, results are returned in the stock browser, which isn’t accessible. The workaround is to bookmark the results page, then open the page from your accessible browser—not very convenient.
  6. File Expert: This file management and browsing tool is quite accessible.

 

Media

 

  1. Google Music Beta: The current incarnation of the stock music player is partially accessible when the phone is used in portrait orientation, but difficult to use in album view mode, which is the default mode when the phone is in landscape. For the accessible version of days gone by, download Android Music by JTRStudio.
  2. Pandora: This custom radio station app is reported to be accessible by a number of Eyes-Free Android list users.
  3. Kindle: This ebook reader for Amazon Kindle content is not accessible. Most controls are labeled and focusable, but no texts are read out loud, even the ones that are TTS enabled.
  4. MoboPlayer: This alternative music player is completely inaccessible.
  5. Doggcatcher: This podcatcher is reported to be accessible by a number of users of the Eyes-Free Android list.
  6. Spotify: I wasn’t able to test this music streaming and downloading app because I couldn’t log in. I’m not sure if the problem was me or the ap.

 

Food and Entertainment

 

  1. FourSquare: This social networking app that lets you tell people where you are is reported to be fairly accessible by a number of Eyes-Free Android users, though there may be a hiccup or two with recent updates.
  2. Netflix: This movie watching app is not accessible.
  3. Yelp: This app for finding a new place to eat or something to do in your area appears to be quite accessible. I only tested it for a short while, but all the basic tasks I tried worked well with Talkback.

 

The two remaining categories are Art and Photography (i.e., camera apps) and Extended Pack (i.e., other Twitter apps and virtual keyboards). I didn’t test any of the camera and photography apps because I don’t have any vision. The stock camera app is good enough for a blind person to snap a picture and send it to someone for help with, say, the buttons on a vending machine. To use it, simply launch the camera app by going through the home screen or by pressing the hardware camera button once; then press the camera button again to take pictures. Camera Magic is another Camera app  with labeled and focusable controls. Twitter and virtual keyboards were covered earlier.

If you’ve used any of these or similar apps, please post a rating on www.AndroidAccess.net or write up a tutorial for AccessibleAndroid.blogspot.com.

 

Also, we’d love to hear about the must-have apps on your phone. Please drop us a line or give us a ring.

 

Talking To Your Android

 

Siri is neat and all, however, Android has been doing this kind of thing through many apps already.

 

Naturally there is the Eyes Free Shell with it’s own built in Google voice Search that many already use.

 

But Ana mentioned that she already uses Vlingo to do some of what Siri offers.

 

JJ has tried SpeakToIt Assistant for some of these same things as well.

 

Joe mentioned that another one to keep an ear out for is Iris. It is in Alpha but it seems promising.

 

Did we miss one you use? Be sure to let us know what else is out there!

 

Feedback

Got something to say? You can send us an email to resources@serotalk.com or leave us an iReport through the iBlink Radio app. You can also follow the official Twitter feed for that Android Show. If you want to keep up with our hosts, here’s how.

 

Keep up with Ana by reading the Accessible Android blog.

Keep up with JJ through the Android Access.net web site.

Keep up with Joe by following The Ranger Station on Twitter.

 

Thanks for listening!