Listen to That Android Show Episode 23: Drive By Google You

2013 brought us many surprises, versions of Android and tons of TalkBack updates. We take some time to look at the year that was for Google Mobile Access from both a low vision and blindness perspective. Plus we may have created some new controversies as an early start on 2014. See if you can spot them during this jam packed episode.

In The News:

Android v4.4.2 Released

New TalkBack Released

New Just Speak update

New Kindle App update adds Talkback support! Steve recommends this app, Screen Time Out Toggle, for use with the Kindle app to avoid screen time outs when reading books

New Eyes Free Shell update released

new Samsung Core Advanced Phone aimed at the Disabled market

New update to iBlink Radio

New Ideal Web Reader

MIT professor tears into Samsung’s ‘painful’ smartphone software

Google approves first CyanogenMod phone

Low Vision Discussion With Rodeny Edgar:

Rodney, the host of our SPN sister show “High Contrast”, sits down with joe to talk what is good and bad and just plain hard to see in the latest version of Android. Rodney has both versions of the Nexus 7, being the 2012 and 2013 editions, and that comes into play during their discussion.

A Look Back At 2013:

Ana, JJ, Joe and Steve take a look back at the last 12 months of Android news and events. What did they like? What didn’ they like? There is a ton of praise and a lot of scorn, plus many rapid releases, with our look at the year that was in Android.

Mailbag:

We didn’t have time this month to feature iReports and emails on the show itself, however, here are some of the comments we found in the That Android Show Inbox. Up first, Mike Arigo:

“Great show. Actually the cyanogen installer is not supported on any of my devices, they’re a bit older phones, and even if I had a supported phone, it’s only used for the first install, after that, you use rom manager to install new builds. Steve should test that with his galaxy s 3, if it’s still on android 4.1, he could go to 4.3 soon to be 4.4, there’s really no reason to stay with the samsung firmware. Hopefully swype will become even more accessible in a future update, for me though, it’s still worth the switch. It’s much more forgiving about not typing the wrong letter, that in itself is worth the switch. I did install cyanogen 10.2 based on android 4.3 on my samsung galaxy relay, my samsung captivate glide and my htc my touch 4g slide, works great on all of those. Waiting for cyanogen 11 which will be based on kit kat.”

Thanks for the update Mike, here’s pat with her thoughts on becoming a new Android user…

“”Hi Everyone, I just finished listening to the last podcast called: Flowers, Rainbows and Puppies. I loved it. I have a little suggestion, please I noticed that you talk about Android phones a lot. There is little mention of Android Tablets. Can you please include info on what Android Tablets work best for Blind folks, please? I’m really new to this Android stuff. I don’t have an Android phone yet, but I just received an Android Tablet. It’s the DOPO (Double Power Technologies) Model EM63 Tablet. Keep up the excellent work. Thanks so much. Pat Ferguson”

Well, we do sorta discuss this one on air a bit, but for those skimming the show notes, we try our very best to feature devices that are popular and affordable. Moreover, and this is super important, we try to feature stock Android as others will try to reproduce what we say on their devices at home. Through trial and error, and through the two formats over three years of doing a show on Android Access, we’ve learned to stick with devices like the Nexus 7 tablet as it will provide the most consistent experience for those who want to learn or replicate our demos. We hope that info helps explain why we try not to complicate matters too much on the show.

Finally, here is a series of running thoughts from jim as he wrote in to tell us about his Nexus 5.

“Hi, hearing that they have been able to deal with the web view constraints and make them natively accessible makes me very happy for sure. I honestly was concerned that the web view issue may not be able to be corrected due to the constraints of the accessibility implementation. I did not know enough to know for sure, but I was concerned about what I thought was a good possibility of that being the case. I am quite happy to be wrong. I would have loved to have been told for certain I was wrong a long time ago. I was concerned it limited the potential for us to use the platform under commonly found conditions. Now I am sure I am going to buy a Nexus 5, I do wish I could get the damn play store to be accessible to do it on my windows 7 64 bit box with any screen reader and browser combination. I haven’t been successful yet. I am about to just purchase it on amazon and pay the hundred dollars more for hopefully much quicker delivery and an accessible purchasing experience. This play store crap with not leaving the warehouse until possibly December 11th is a bit unacceptable anyway. I feel as though possibly customers are played with this limited constraint crap by many, yes, including Apple for sure.

Jim”

Here’s a second with more on the new phone,

“Hi that android show, I just thought I’d write with an update after playing with my new Nexus 5 for a few days. I am really liking the improvements they have made in 4.4. Native support for web views is awesome! It makes using the gmail app way better and it really needed it. You could get what you needed out of it before, but it wasn’t a good user experience. It wasn’t really reliable and predictable. The web view support is great in other places too. One thing I am concerned about for the future is what impact, if any, that ART will have on accessibility. I hope it won’t impact it, but I don’t know enough to know and can imagine it completely destroying what allows accessibility to work? I just don’t know enough at the detailed level to know if it will destroy it or have no impact. The nexus 5 is very fast. The negatives of the nexus 5 are the speaker and its lack of volume capability and battery life is ok, but not great. Neither of those issues are as bad as they could sound though. I prefer a good microphone that the nexus 5 has over the nexus 4 and, while I would love a good speaker, one can always fall back to other sound output sources as necessary. Talkback with the google TTS (haven’t tried others yet) is plenty loud enough and so are other media sources.Where the speaker volume deficiency shows itself most is speaker phone. If the sound is low from the other side of the call, you are screwed for trying to use speaker phone unless your environment is very quiet. Plan on other output sources. The ear piece is fine by the way. Personally I don’t like putting my phone up to my ear much. I don’t like skin oil all over my screen.”

And here’s another mail with an update upon further use…

“Hi Jo,

Thanks for the reply. Here are some additional thoughts after further use. Most are good. Let’s get the only negative one out of the way. I have found that the web views don’t always consistently work with explore by touch. There was one I could never get to work and others worked sometimes and not other times pulling up the same thing. The one I could not get to work for whatever the reason was bringing up the shipping email in a google now card from an Amazon shipment. It worked perfectly well on the IOS version. Nothing would get it to read at all by doing anything on the Android side. The example I found that would read sometimes and not others was an email so far. Pulling up the same email in gmail would sometimes read and other times would not. Fortunately swiping through the email from gmail would still get it to read. Not so with the shipping email in google now. At least if we are truly thankfully beyond the limitation of depending on web scripts, maybe they can fix the inconsistent reading or not reading at this point. I don’t know. At least if swiping will still read it, it can be reliable. The good things I alluded to above are native stuff that are not web views. Google Plus works way better than the IOS version because the explore by touch and swiping are working nicely where I can’t say the same for voiceover. Voiceover is being a real PITA right now in such types of situations. I also picked up a MOto X along side my Nexus 5. You may know I like being able to try out gadgets and I like it much more when I like them and they work too. The Nexus 5 is relatively fast and there is no lag in the screen reader experience. The first generation Nexus 5 I have though has a weak speaker, which I hear they are now shipping a revised version which does not, and battery life is relatively weak too. The Moto X is better on these issues and feels just slightly sluggish on screen reader response. The Acapela TTS helps this some, but there is still a gap in performance. It would probably not be noticed without a direct comparison, which includes a comparison by familiarity from daily use, with the Nexus and also voiceover performance. The later I know is comparing Apples and Googles. One thing I have to say I am not so happy they took away is the ability to touch anywhere on the screen and for Talkback to place focus there to register a tap by double tapping, even where there is not a recognized object on the screen there. The ability to do that was useful. I have some theory’s why they took that away which may or may not be correct. Some have to do with people maybe wining instead of learning how to use stuff and that thought is extremely frustrating. Not a big deal in the big picture though. I still have and use my 5s and an IPad mini retina. I want everything to work great. I like all of it.

Jim”

Contacting the Team

We’ve had our say, now its your turn. Drop us a line at or send us a tweet at our official Twitter page.

You can also follow our hosts by visiting

Ana’s Accessible Android blog or

JJ at AndroidAccess.net.

Finally, Check out Steve’s Twitter feed.

Thanks for listening!