Tag Archives: Apple Watch Sport

Dolphin Easy Reader App for iOS Review

Dolphin have recently released their Easy Reader app for iOS. I must admit that I was a little sceptical about whether the app would be any good when considering Dolphin’s speciality is magnification and speech software for Windows computers. It also came as a bit of a surprise as they had managed to keep it quiet pretty much up until it went live.

 

Obviously I work with Dolphin products a lot in my capacity as a Certified Software Specialist and Accredited Trainer for Guide and SuperNova, so I’m fully aware that their software is very good. I’m also a VoiceOver specialist so I was very interested to see how their first foray into the world of iOS apps had turned out.

 

I have no vision at all so am using VoiceOver rather than magnification on my iOS devices, so please bear that in mind when reading my little review.

 

First impressions and layout.

 

The app is free from the iOS App Store, which of course is great news. There are also some in-app purchase options which I’ll talk about later. The first thing you find when you open the Easy Reader app is that the welcome screen is clear and uncluttered. It tells you that you can sign in using your Dolphin account if you already have one and invites you to register for one if you don’t. To register for a Dolphin account is free and as simple as completing a form which consists of using your email as your user name and choosing a password for your Dolphin account. Once you submit the form a verification email is sent to your email address. All you need to do is click on the verification link within the email and you’re done.

 

Once you’ve signed into the app with your Dolphin account details it’s very apparent very quickly that a great deal of effort has gone into making the app simple, uncluttered and easy to use. Along the top of the app screen just beneath the device status bar is a set of options consisting of five items. From left to right the items are:

 

Side Menu button: Single finger double tapping this button opens the app menu where you can find options to manage your ebook libraries, view any text added to your clipboard and find help for the app as well as sign out of the app. 

 

My Books heading: This heading changes depending on which screen of the app you’re in.

 

List/Collection View button: Single finger double tapping this button toggles the view of your downloaded ebooks between list and collection views. From a VoiceOver user point of view I much prefer it in list view as the list is displayed with the title and author of the book and then has a “Book Information” button beneath it. This is a nice little feature which allows you to find out how far you’ve read through the book as well as an option to return to the book.

 

Sort button: Single finger double tapping this button displays a list of sorting options for displaying your downloaded ebooks. The options are; most recent, title and author.

 

Beneath these main options on the app home screen is a search edit box which runs the entire width of the screen.

 

Beneath the search edit box and basically taking up the rest of the screen is, or will be once you’ve downloaded some, a list of all of the books downloaded to your device.

 

Downloading an ebook.

 

Downloading an ebook really is very easy. All you need to do is open the side menu, choose a library from the manage libraries list and open it, search for a book using the search edit box or browse through categories such as Action and Adventure, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Young Reader, Romance, Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction etc. Once you find a book you want single finger double tap on the book title and a screen will open up giving you a download option as well as giving info about the book such as its format, file size and the library you’re downloading it from. You can then navigate back to your list of downloaded books by using the “Back” button found at the top left of the screen and single finger double tapping on the “My Books” button. It’s very straight forward and fully accessible.

 

Reading a downloaded ebook.

 

Reading a downloaded ebook is as simple as single finger double tapping the book title on your “My Books” list then single finger double tapping the Play/Pause button when the book has loaded. There are some really good features on the book screen that you should know about. There are two sets of controls on the book screen, one along the top and one along the bottom. Here’s what the controls are and what they do.

 

Top of screen, from left to right.

 

Side Menu button: Single finger double tapping this button opens the app menu where you can find options to manage your ebook libraries, view any text added to your clipboard and find help for the app as well as sign out of the app.

 

Search button: Single finger double tapping this button allows you to search for a particular word or phrase in the book.

 

Book title heading: This heading displays the title of the book you’re currently reading.

 

Reading progress percentage: Shows you how much of the current book you’ve read.

 

Text Settings button: Single finger double tapping this button allows you to adjust text size, change the book’s font, change the font list for the book, adjust margins, adjust line spacing, adjust letter spacing, change colour themes, change text colour, change background colour, change sentence highlight colour, change word highlight colour and reset everything you’ve changed back to their default settings.

 

Audio Settings button: Single finger double tapping this button allows you to change the reading voice, adjust voice speed, change voice pitch, adjust voice volume, add pronunciations, toggle the app to play a sound when you reach a bookmark and an option to reset everything you’ve changed back to their default settings. There’s also an option to add new voices should you wish to and this is where the in-app purchases come in. There’s a large list of voices for you to choose from, so if there’s a particular voice that you prefer it’s likely to be available here.

 

Bottom of screen, from left to right.

 

Book Navigation button: Single finger double tapping on this button opens a screen which allows you to navigate by chapter.

 

Navigation Modes button: Single finger double tapping this button opens a screen which allows you to choose the way you navigate books. The options are by word, by heading 1, by bookmarks and by document. There’s also a default option which is predictably, the default setting.

 

Previous button: Single finger double tapping this button navigates you to the previous chapter, heading etc depending on what you’ve chosen to navigate by in your Navigation Modes settings.

 

Play/Pause button: Single finger double tapping this button plays or pauses the book.

 

Next button: Single finger double tapping this button navigates you to the next chapter, heading etc depending on what you’ve chosen to navigate by in your Navigation Modes settings.

 

Sleep Timer button: Single finger double tapping this button allows you to set a sleep timer for 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes.

 

Bookmarks button: Single finger double tapping this button allows you to set an audio bookmark at the current book position. Note that you’ll need to give the app permission to use the device microphone to be able to do this.

 

Deleting a book.

 

Once you’ve finished reading an ebook that you’ve downloaded you can of course delete it from your device. As with everything else in this app it’s dead easy. Simply select the book title on your “My Books” list and single finger flick up or down to highlight the Delete option then single finger double tap. A dialogue window opens asking you if you’d like to delete the book from the device and gives you “Yes” and “Cancel” button options. Simply single finger double tap the “Yes” button and the book will be deleted from your device.

 

Summary.

 

I really like this app. It’s fully accessible with VoiceOver; VoiceOver reads all of the buttons and labels, it’s well laid out and uncluttered, it’s easy to use and it’s free. I think Dolphin have done an excellent job with this app and I really hope they produce some more fully accessible iOS apps in the future.

 

If you’d like to try out the Dolphin Easy Reader app you can get it on the iOS App Store at: https://appsto.re/gb/Zazpfb.i

VoiceOver accessible iOS apps suitable for kids

As we all know there are literally thousands of third party apps out there for smart phones and tablets, but sadly very few of them are actually accessible to those of us who are visually impaired and rely on using screen reading technology to operate our devices, let alone ones that are good for kids. As I’m a VoiceOver specialist this blog focuses on apps useful and suitable for kids using Apple iOS devices, there are of course apps for Android devices too, but as I’m not a trainer for Android and don’t have specific knowledge about them I’m afraid I’m unable to give any meaningful advice or opinions about them. So, in the spirit of Christmas I’ve pulled together a list of 12 apps that are fully accessible with VoiceOver, are suitable for kids and that work well. I’ve tried to get together a reasonable mixture of apps that are useful, educational and fun, but that can also be used by kids and families alike. In the list below you’ll find the name of the app, a brief description of what it does as well as which devices and operating systems it will work with, its cost and finally a link to its page on the Apple iOS app store.

 

 

App name: Accessible Letter Soup.

Price: £0.79.

Description: Learn words and spelling with Accessible Letter Soup. Words can be found vertically, horizontally or diagonally. You can also choose the size of board and difficulty of words. There are lots of different categories of words to choose from including, animals, musical instruments, colours, professions and jobs, human body. Good for most ages, and particularly good for learning spellings as you can start easy and work your way up.

Devices this app is suitable for: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 7.0 or later.

Get the app in the iOS app store at: https://appsto.re/gb/nKih6.i

 

App name: Blindfold Bowling.

Price: Free with some in app purchases.

Description: A good app for all ages. In this game you can play on your own, with friends and family or against computer opponents. The game is fully accessible and relies purely on the player’s hearing. It has excellent sound effects as you hear yourself get strikes and half strikes along with frustrating gutter balls.

Devices this app is suitable for: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 7.0 or later.

Get the app in the iOS app store at: https://appsto.re/gb/xTC79.i

 

App name: Blindfold Hopper.

Price: Free with some in app purchases.

Description: A really fun game for younger kids, this game is audio only and is fully accessible. In the game the player is a frog trying to jump from lily pad to lily pad as they pass by. The further through the game the player gets the quicker the lily pads pass by. Lots of great sound effects of animals give this game a really nice feel. But don’t get too distracted, if you miss the lily pad and fall in you’ll get eaten by an alligator!

Devices this app is suitable for: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 7.0 or later.

Get the app in the iOS app store at:  https://appsto.re/gb/8Ibq6.i

 

App name: Blindfold Simon.

Price: Free with some in app purchases.

Description: This is a great fun app for all ages. Really good for the memory and helping kids get used to gestures on the touch screen. Just like the game Simon Says, this app gives the player a sequence, touch screen gestures are then used to replicate the sequence. Each time a sequence is successfully replicated another gesture is added to the next sequence and so on. This app has 1 and 2 player modes. In 2 player mode the iOS device is passed from one player to the next each time a sequence is successfully passed.

Devices this app is suitable for: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 7.0 or later.

Get the app in the iOS app store at:  https://appsto.re/gb/h5VF7.i

 

App name: Blindfold Pong.

Price: Free with some in app purchases.

Description: Based on the classic arcade game Pong, this app is audio only and the player wears headphones to hear the direction that the ball or balls are travelling. The app uses the gyroscope built into the iOS device to determine when the player is swinging the bat (the phone or iPod) to hit the ball. It has progressive levels that get harder and harder the further you get. Good fun for all ages and also great for developing motor skills.

Devices this app is suitable for: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 7.0 or later. However, it is rather difficult to play the game on an iPad due to the device size.

Get the app in the iOS app store at: https://appsto.re/gb/UjqE7.i

 

App name: Braille Reference.

Price: £0.79.

Description: A great app for kids learning braille or for those who don’t use it very often. The app has over 250 braille symbols and contractions that can be easily looked up for reference. The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver and a great tool to have in your bag or pocket if you’re a braille user.

Devices this app is suitable for: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 6.1 or later.

Get the app in the iOS app store at: https://appsto.re/gb/TwoZE.i

 

App name: Chime.

Price: Free.

Description: This is a great little app that enables your iOS device to make quarterly, half hourly or hourly time announcements. You can choose between several different sounds and two voices for the announcements. It’s a very useful app and is fully accessible with VoiceOver.

Devices this app is suitable for: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 7.0 or later.

Get the app in the iOS app store at: https://appsto.re/gb/c5CUy.i

 

App name: Double Post.

Price: Free with an optional in app upgrade purchase.

Description: A great app for older kids who have their own Facebook and/or Twitter accounts, it enables you to post to both simultaneously very quickly and easily as well as adding photos etc. It is fully accessible with VoiceOver and even works with AppleWatch.

Devices this app is suitable for: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 8.0 or later.

Get the app in the iOS app store at: https://appsto.re/gb/IhXdN.i

 

App name: JumpInSaucers.

Price: Free, there is also a paid version of the game that you can purchase.

Description: This is a game developed by parents of visually impaired children initially to allow their kids to play with their siblings. The game is an alien shoot ‘em up that utilises the iOS device’s gyroscope to allow the player to control the character. It’s fully accessible and suitable for all ages. It has good sound effects and interesting alien noises. This app is also available for Android devices on Google Play.

Devices this app is suitable for: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 6.0 or later.

Get the app in the iOS app store at: https://appsto.re/gb/kRB54.i

 

App name: Listerine Smile Detector.

Price: Free.

Description: This is a lovely fun little app that enables visually impaired and blind kids to see when people are smiling at them. The app is supported by the RNIB, is fully accessible with VoiceOver and also has built in magnification. The app can use the front or rear facing cameras and makes sounds or vibrates when a smile is detected. I think this is a really nice app that was created for all the right reasons.

Devices this app is suitable for: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 7.1 or later.

Get the app in the iOS app store at: https://appsto.re/gb/K-KV8.i

 

App name: Pages.

Price: Free.

Description: Pages is actually an Apple app and is fully accessible with VoiceOver. It’s a powerful word processing app that enables you to create, edit, read and save documents in multiple formats including Microsoft Word and PDF. It’s great for general word processing and good for school work as it offers a large selection of pre loaded documents templates for things like reports, posters, flyers, CVs, letters etc as well as enabling you to create your own unique documents. This app is fully accessible when using the touch screen on devices but it becomes even more viable as a tool for school work when a bluetooth keyboard is used with the iOS device.

Devices this app is suitable for: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 8.4 or later.

Get the app in the iOS app store at: https://appsto.re/gb/EysIv.i

 

App name: Spelling Bee.

Price: Free with some in app purchases.

Description: A fully accessible spelling app great for improving kids’ spelling. The app comes with 1,000 pre loaded spelling tests organised into different difficulty levels. The spelling tests are made into games to help kids enjoy doing them. This app is aimed at children aged 9 to 11 years.

Devices this app is suitable for: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 6.0 or later.

Get the app in the iOS app store at: https://appsto.re/gb/lqQY0.i

 

 

This blog has made me think about doing the occasional article about apps that I find to be accessible and useful, so watch this space for future instalments.

Tick tock, my Apple Watch experience, using the Friends button on Apple Watch 2.0

Using the Friends button on the Apple Watch:

 

This blog post refers to Apple Watches running Apple Watch 2.0 software.

 

Easily one of the best features of the Apple Watch is the ability to access contacts quickly and make calls using the watch itself. There’s something wonderfully sci fi about talking at your wrist and having a two way conversation through it.

 

One of the easiest and quickest ways to get to some of your favourite contacts is to use the Friends button found below the Digital crown on the right side of the watch. This function is really useful as you can choose up to 12 people from your contacts list on your iPhone to create something called the ‘Friends Circle’ on your watch. To create your friends Circle do the following:

 

HOT TIP: First go to the Contacts setting in the Apple Watch app and make sure that ‘Mirror my iPhone’ is selected. This will mean that your entire contacts list from your iPhone will also be available on your Apple Watch. It will also mean that any contacts on your iPhone contacts list that are blocked will also be blocked on your Apple Watch.

 

1. Go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and go to Friends.

 

2. Once in the Friends setting area you will be presented with 12 spaces in which to add contacts of your choosing. The way Apple have done this is very clever and very easy for those of us who are blind or visually impaired to imagine. Basically the screen displays a list laid out as a watch face numbered 1 to 12 going around in a clockwise direction. It displays, “Add friend, 12 o’clock on friends circle”, “Add friend, 1 o’clock on friends circle” and so on until all 12 hour positions on a clock face are accounted for.

 

3. Single finger double tap on the clock face position you want to add a contact to.

 

4. Your contacts list will open on your iPhone to allow you to select who to add. Simply find the person you want and single finger double tap on their name. That person will then be added to the Friends Circle position you selected.

 

It is in theory possible to reorder the contacts around the clock face in your friends circle, however I have found it very awkward to do as it is no longer as simple as moving the contact up or down a list as it was in Apple Watch 1.1. In Apple Watch 2.0 VoiceOver will tell you to swipe up or down to reorder the person when you highlight their name with your finger tip. In practice this is very difficult to achieve as VoiceOver doesn’t seem to recognise what your doing. My best piece of advice regarding this would be to add the person in the clock face position you want them in the first place to avoid having to try and reorder them. This is a shame because I think the method of doing this in Apple Watch 1.1 was far more user friendly for those of us using VoiceOver.

 

Deleting contacts from your friends circle has also changed in Apple Watch 2.0. I’ve found that the easiest way to remove contacts is to do the following:

 

1. Single finger double tap the contact name and a Remove button is announced by VoiceOver.

 

2. Single finger double tap anywhere on the screen to activate the Remove button.

 

3. An alert will pop up and will be announced by VoiceOver displaying a Remove Friend button and a Cancel button. Single finger left or right swipe on the screen to navigate to the button you wish to use and then single finger double tap anywhere on the screen to activate it. If you activate the Remove Friend button then obviously the contact you selected will be removed. The contact will be removed from your Friends Circle but will remain in your iPhone contacts list. If you activate the Cancel button the contact will not be removed and you will be returned to your Friends Circle screen.

 

4. Repeat steps 1, 2 and 3 for each contact you wish to delete from your Friends Circle. Then, once you’ve finished single finger double tap the My Watch button found at the top left corner of the screen under your phone’s cellular signal display.

 

 

Now you’ve created your Friends Circle here is how you can use it .

 

1. Press and release the Friends button on your Apple Watch to display your Friends Circle.

 

2. Use Digital Crown Navigation or a finger tip on the Apple Watch screen to move around the names of contacts in the Friends Circle.

 

3. Single finger double tap on the name button of the person you want to call or message. A new screen will be displayed giving you options to call, message, digital touch or send a tap. Note that the digital touch/tap option button will be greyed out/dimmed if the person does not have an Apple Watch.

 

4. Use Digital Crown Navigation or a fingertip on the screen to move around the option buttons and do the following :

 

Single finger double tap on the person’s name button to send a digital touch.

 

Single finger triple tap on the person’s name button to send a tap.

 

Single finger double tap on the Phone button to call the person.

 

Single finger double tap on the Message button to send the person a message.

 

You can also single finger double tap on the Back button found at the top left of the screen to return you to your Friends Circle list.

 

5. If you wish to switch your Apple Watch off, press and hold the Friends button for 2 seconds. A new screen will then be displayed giving you 4 options. You can single finger swipe left or right to find Cancel, Power off, Power reserve and Lock device buttons. Simply single finger double tap on the button for the action you want to perform.

 

6. To switch your Apple Watch on, press and hold the Friends button for 2 seconds. The watch will take approximately 90 seconds to boot up. It will then ask you to enter your watch passcode.

 

 

In my next blog I will be talking about adding and removing third party apps from the Apple Watch.

Tick tock, my Apple Watch experience, using the Friends button on the Apple Watch

Using the Friends button on the Apple Watch:

 

This blog post refers to Apple Watches running Apple Watch 1.1 software.

 

Easily one of the best features of the Apple Watch is the ability to access contacts quickly and make calls using the watch itself. There’s something wonderfully sci fi about talking at your wrist and having a two way conversation through it.

 

One of the easiest and quickest ways to get to some of your favourite contacts is to use the Friends button found below the Digital crown on the right side of the watch. This function is really useful as you can choose up to 12 people from your contacts list on your iPhone to create something called the ‘Friends Circle’ on your watch. To create your friends Circle do the following:

 

HOT TIP: First go to the Contacts setting in the Apple Watch app and make sure that ‘Mirror my iPhone’ is selected. This will mean that your entire contacts list from your iPhone will also be available on your Apple Watch. It will also mean that any contacts on your iPhone contacts list that are blocked will also be blocked on your Apple Watch.

 

1. Go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and go to Friends.

 

2. Once in the Friends setting area you will be presented with 12 spaces in which to add contacts of your choosing. The way Apple have done this is very clever and very easy for those of us who are blind or visually impaired to imagine. Basically the screen displays a list numbered 1 to 12 and starting from the top going down the list it displays, “Add friend, 12 o’clock on friends circle”, “Add friend, 1 o’clock on friends circle” and so on until all 12 hour positions on a metaphorical clock face are accounted for.

 

3. Single finger double tap on the clock face position you want to add a contact to. Note that you can reorder the position of contacts in your Friends Circle once you’ve filled some or all of the available spaces.

 

4. Your contacts list will open on your iPhone to allow you to select who to add. Simply find the person you want and single finger double tap on their name. That person will then be added to the Friends Circle position you selected.

 

To reorder contacts that you’ve added to your Friends Circle do the following:

 

1. When in the Friends screen in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, single finger double tap on the Edit button found at the top right corner of the screen under your phone’s battery percentage display.

 

2. There will now be a “reorder” button down the right side of the screen next to each contact you’ve added to your Friends Circle. Single finger double tap and hold on the reorder button next to the contact you wish to move and wait for the popping sound.

 

3. Now move your finger up or down the list. VoiceOver will announce where you are moving the contact to. For example “Moved above Bob” or “Moved below Sarah”.

 

4. Lift your finger off the screen and repeat step 3 for each contact you wish to reorder.

 

5. Once you’ve finished single finger double tap on the Done button found at the top right corner of the screen under your phone’s battery percentage display.

 

To delete contacts from your Friends Circle do the following:

 

1. When in the Friends screen in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, single finger double tap on the Edit button found at the top right corner of the screen under your phone’s battery percentage display.

 

2. There will now be a “Delete” button down the left side of the screen just after the name of each contact you’ve added to your Friends Circle. Single finger double tap on the delete button.

 

3. A “Remove”  button will now appear on the right side of the screen next to the contact you selected the delete button on. Single finger double tap the Remove button and the contact will be removed from your Friends Circle but will remain in your iPhone contacts list.

 

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each contact you wish to delete from your Friends Circle. Then, once you’ve finished single finger double tap the Done button found at the top right corner of the screen under your phone’s battery percentage display.

 

Now you’ve created your Friends Circle here is how you can use it .

 

1. Press and release the Friends button on your Apple Watch to display your Friends Circle.

 

2. Use Digital Crown Navigation or a finger tip on the Apple Watch screen to move around the names of contacts in the Friends Circle.

 

3. Single finger double tap on the name button of the person you want to call or message. A new screen will be displayed giving you options to call, message, digital touch or send a tap. Note that the digital touch/tap option button will be greyed out/dimmed if the person does not have an Apple Watch.

 

4. Use Digital Crown Navigation or a fingertip on the screen to move around the option buttons and do the following :

 

Single finger double tap on the person’s name button to send a digital touch.

 

Single finger triple tap on the person’s name button to send a tap.

 

Single finger double tap on the Phone button to call the person.

 

Single finger double tap on the Message button to send the person a message.

 

You can also single finger double tap on the Back button found at the top left of the screen to return you to your Friends Circle list.

 

5. If you wish to switch your Apple Watch off, press and hold the Friends button for 2 seconds. A new screen will then be displayed giving you 4 options. You can single finger swipe left or right to find Cancel, Power off, Power reserve and Lock device buttons. Simply single finger double tap on the button for the action you want to perform.

 

6. To switch your Apple Watch on, press and hold the Friends button for 2 seconds. The watch will take approximately 90 seconds to boot up. It will then ask you to enter your watch passcode.

 

 

In my next blog I will be talking about adding and removing third party apps from the Apple Watch.

Tick tock, my Apple Watch experience, using Siri on the Apple Watch

Using Siri on the Apple Watch.

 

Love it or hate it Siri is one of the many reasons that so many visually impaired and blind people buy iOS devices. Although sometimes Siri can be a pain in the backside if it doesn’t understand what you’ve asked it or occasionally gets words wrong when dictating emails or texts, the fact remains that the majority of the time it makes things quick and easy.

 

The Apple Watch incorporates Siri and as a result many of the things we are familiar with using it for on our iPhones, iPads and iPods are also possible on the watch. There are some differences of course, mainly in the way that the watch communicates to us through Siri, but in most cases it’s possible to make Siri work effectively for us.

 

The most noticeable difference is that Siri doesn’t speak as he/she does on iOS devices. Instead the response appears on the screen of the watch and the wearer either drags their finger around to have the VoiceOver voice read the content or uses Digital Crown Navigation to do so. This may at first seem a bit odd, but in actual fact you don’t even notice once you’ve got used to it. As the wearer is going to have raised their wrist to use Siri in the first place it’s not a great stretch to using your finger or the Digital Crown to read the screen once Siri responds. As with most new things it’s worth spending some time getting used to the slightly different functionality of the Apple Watch, you will certainly find that it is well worth it.

 

There are a couple of ways to use Siri on the Apple Watch. The first is to tap the screen once to wake the watch up, raise your wrist and say “Hey Siri.” The second is to press and hold the Digital Crown before giving Siri an instruction or asking it a question. In both cases and assuming that you have haptic feedback enabled on your Apple Watch, you will feel two taps in quick succession on your wrist when Siri is awake and ready to receive instructions/questions. These haptic taps are the Apple Watch equivalent of the audible pips that iOS devices produce when Siri is ready to receive instructions/questions.

 

Another big difference is when creating new emails. For example, once you’ve told Siri to “send email to Dad” the watch will tell you that he/she can help you create a new email using HAND OFF on your iPhone.

 

Note: For this to work you will of course need to ensure that you have HAND OFF enabled on your iPhone. This is done by going to SETTINGS, then GENERAL, then HAND OFF AND SUGGESTED APPS. You will find a button near the top centre of the screen that says HAND OFF. Simply single finger double tap to toggle the button on or off.

 

Once you pick up your iPhone you will find a Siri button displayed at the bottom left corner of the locked screen. Single finger double tap the button and Siri will tell you that you need to unlock the phone first. Once you’ve unlocked the phone Siri takes you through the steps of creating and sending the email as he/she normally would. Interestingly Siri re-locks the phone once the email is sent, which I think is quite useful.

 

Similarly Siri asks you to use HAND OFF if you ask him/her to check for new emails via the Apple Watch. The process is the same as detailed above for the purposes of opening Siri for HAND OFF and unlocking the phone, Siri will then take you through the normal process of checking for new mail.

 

In conclusion I think some good advice is to get used to Siri on the Apple Watch by using it and becoming familiar with using HAND OFF for things like emails etc. As you can ask it all of the usual things like what the weather forecast for tomorrow is, what time it is in another country, ask it to tell you a joke etc etc, there’s plenty of things you can do to help familiarise yourself.

 

In my next blog post I will be talking about using the FRIENDS button on the Apple Watch.

Tick Tock, my Apple Watch experience, VoiceOver gestures and glances/notification navigation

13th July: VoiceOver gestures, Glances and Notifications navigation.

 

Once your Apple Watch basic set up is done you will of course need to know how to navigate around the watch to find things and generally use it. What I will say here is that the Apple Watch is very very accessible with VoiceOver but it does take a little getting used to as the screen is so much smaller. Luckily Apple have managed to make the watch give you relevant information on screen without bombarding you with so much stuff that you simply can’t interact with the thing! I really think this is to their credit. With some very simple and in most cases familiar gestures VoiceOver users can use the full range of available features on the watch. Add to that the awesome Digital Crown navigation function and we are at no real disadvantage in using the watch compared to sighted users.

 

First I thought I’d share with you the gestures you’ll need to navigate around the touch screen. In the list below I’ve stated the gesture followed by what it does.

 

Single finger single tap on the screen: Wakes the watch up.

 

Drag one finger onto an item: Selects the item and VoiceOver reads the item out.

 

Single finger double tap on a selected item: Activates or opens that item.

 

Single finger swipe from left to right: Jumps to next item.

 

Single finger swipe from right to left: Jumps to previous item.

Two finger swipe up: Opens glances.

 

Two finger swipe down: opens notifications.

 

 

Two finger swipe from left to right: Moves you backwards through glances.

 

Two finger swipe from right to left: Moves you forwards through glances.

 

Single finger double tap and deep press on watch face screen: Opens watch faces selection screen.

 

Single finger double tap and deep press within apps, glances or notifications: Opens additional options such as delete, clear all, mark as read etc.

 

Two finger double tap, hold and swipe up: Increases volume of VoiceOver.

 

Two finger double tap, hold and swipe down: Decreases volume of VoiceOver.

 

Two finger triple tap: Toggles Digital Crown navigation on and off.

 

Lay palm of hand over entire watch screen for three seconds: Mutes notifications and ringer so you only get haptic feedback on the wrist; this is assuming that you have haptic feedback switched on in your settings.

 

Single finger single tap then say “Hey Siri”: Allows you to ask Siri a question or give Siri a command. For example, single finger single tap on the screen and say “Hey Siri open mail.” This is assuming that you have Siri enabled in your settings.

 

 

For completeness I thought I’d also list the functions of the Digital Crown and Friends button for you below.

 

Single press and release on the Digital Crown: Wakes the watch up. In addition it toggles you between the watch face screen and home screen. It also returns you to your home screen if you are in an app.

 

Press and hold the Digital Crown: Allows you to ask Siri a question or give Siri a command. This is assuming that you have Siri enabled in your settings.

 

Press and release the Digital Crown twice in quick succession: Opens the last visited app.

 

Press and release the Digital Crown three times in quick succession: Toggles VoiceOver on and off. This is assuming you’ve set the accessibility shortcut in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone to VoiceOver.

 

Turning the Digital Crown towards you with Digital Crown navigation function switched on: Moves you to the next item on screen.

 

Turning the Digital Crown away from you with the Digital Crown navigation function switched on: Moves you to the previous item on screen.

 

Turning the Digital Crown towards you with the Digital Crown navigation function switched off: Decreases volume of media when on media player screen.

 

Turning the Digital Crown away from you with the Digital Crown navigation function switched off: Increases volume of media when on media player screen.

 

Press and release Friends button: Opens list of favourites from contacts.

 

Press and hold Friends button for two seconds: Switches Apple Watch on or off. Note that when switching the Apple Watch on the watch takes approximately 90 seconds to boot up.

 

 

So, that gives you an idea of how you will interact with your Apple Watch and get around it. I found that before I started playing with watch faces etc it was useful to get used to these gestures and controls. I highly recommend that you try out the Digital Crown navigation function and switching it on and off as this will really enhance your experience of using your watch.

 

 

In my next blog post I’ll talk about watch faces, complications and what they are, as well as how to add complications to your chosen watch face.

Tick tock, my Apple Watch experience, the set up

9th July: The set up.

 

Having spent some time unpacking both my Apple Watch and the additional Leather Loop strap I’d bought for it I got on with setting the watch up. I will state here that although I’ve read a fair bit about the Apple Watch I had, until now, never actually handled one let alone set one up. I also set the watch up with no sighted assistance at all, I’d been looking forward to setting it up myself, plus I wanted to see how the set up worked for a blind person doing it on their own.

 

It’s best to have the watch on your wrist when setting it up so first I put it on and noticed that despite my misgivings about the rubber sports strap that came with the Watch it is really very comfortable and robust with an easy to secure pin arrangement.

 

Next the watch needed to be switched on. This is done by pressing the Friends button for two seconds. Once pressed the watch takes about 90 seconds to boot up. Now it is worth mentioning here that I already knew to expect this so I simply went off and made a cup of tea whilst it did so. Once I’d got my freshly made cuppa it was time to turn on VoiceOver. Those of you who have iPhones, iPads or iPods will no doubt be familiar with the shortcut method for turning it on during set up, which of course is to press the Home key three times in quick succession. It’s exactly the same on the Apple Watch except that you press the Digital Crown instead. The Digital Crown gives a nice positive click as you press it which I found quite reassuring. VoiceOver takes two or three seconds to start, but once on you’re presented with a language selection screen where you can single finger flick left or right to find the language you wish to use. Then you simply single finger double tap on the screen to select that language.

 

Next the watch requires you to pair it with an iPhone. I have an iPhone 5s, but the Apple Watch is compatible with the iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6 and 6+ so as long as you have one of these you’ll be fine. Having said that, I doubt there is anybody who’s interested in buying an Apple Watch who isn’t aware of this.

 

When the watch announces the pairing screen, single finger flick right to scroll along each segment to listen to the information it gives you. At this point you’ll need to have your iPhone handy and have the Apple Watch app open. All you need to do then is follow the instructions that both the watch and the iPhone give you. I say the watch and the iPhone as VoiceOver announces each stage as you go through it and depending on which stage you are at determines whether you’re using the watch or the app on the iPhone. It’s worth pointing out here that there’s a time limit on putting the pairing code into the watch when the iPhone app asks you to, so this may mean you take a few attempts to type the code in quickly enough. I managed to do it on the second attempt, I think it was probably because the virtual number pad on the watch screen is so small that it takes a bit of getting used to.

 

Once you’ve completed the initial set up of your watch you can start taking a look around it and setting it up to suit your own needs. The first thing I’d recommend you do is make the accessibility shortcut switch VoiceOver on and off. To do this do the following:

 

1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and single finger double tap on the GENERAL button.

2. Single finger double tap on the ACCESSIBILITY button.

3. Three finger swipe up the screen to scroll up then single finger double tap on the ACCESSIBILITY SHORTCUT button.

4. Single finger double tap on the VOICEOVER button.

 

You can now return to your Apple Watch and confirm this setting is active by pressing the Digital Crown three times in quick succession to switch VoiceOver off. Simply repeat the three Digital Crown presses to switch it back on. You can now control VoiceOver easily using this shortcut.

 

The last thing I’m going to talk about in this blog post is how to find the Apple Watch user guide. To get to the user guide do the following:

 

1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

2. Single finger double tap on the ABOUT button.

3. Three finger swipe up the screen to scroll up.

4. Single finger double tap on the APPLE WATCH USER GUIDE button.

 

You are then presented with a list of sections to browse. To expand a section and see what topics are within it simply single finger double tap on the name of the section. You can collapse the topics list by single finger double tapping on the section name again.

 

To read a topic, single finger double tap on the topic name. You can then do a two finger swipe down on the screen and VoiceOver will read the page to you.

 

Once you’ve finished reading the page single finger double tap on the TABLE OF CONTENTS button found at the top left of the screen under the signal strength status bar item and you will be returned to the user guide table of contents. When you’ve finished reading the user guide and wish to come out of it, single finger double tap on the DONE button found at the top right corner of the screen under the battery power display.

 

 

In my next blog post I’ll be talking about VoiceOver gestures for use on the Apple Watch as well as how to navigate around glances and notifications.