Welcome to Go you Big Blog!

(Newest post for returning visitors: Rooting Android and installing a custom ROM – Parts 1 – 3 published on 15/12/2014)

Hi and welcome!

My main intent behind this blog is to share some of what I’ve learnt as a large print Android user. I’ve tried to order the pages below to cover topics in a logical order from choosing a handset, through finding the best launcher, to choosing the best apps for different purposes. If you’re curious about who I am and why I am writing this blog, you might like to read a bit more about Who am I anyway?

If you’d like to skip straight to a list of suggested apps for different user groups, go to: Sample phone setup options for different users
Firstly, choosing a handset, that is, what to look for when buying a phone:

Choosing an Android handset for low vision – Part 1: Screen size & Aspect Ratio

Choosing an Android phone for low vision – Part 2: Display Technology and Resolution.

Choosing an Android phone for low vision – Part 3: Brand and Android version.

Next up, let’s have a look at launchers – the launcher is what is on screen when you’re not specifically in an app – like the “desktop” on a computer, it usually has icons or links to your apps and can contain other items such as a clock, or the current temperature. Launchers are a big part of making Android more accessible as the default launchers have very small text and icons and don’t always work with Talkback (the speech in Android), so here are some other options which will really improve your Android experience:

Launchers Part 1 – Stock vs Big Launcher

Launchers Part 2 – Simplified Launchers

Launchers Part 3 – Mainstream Android launchers with large print

Speaking of Talkback – In July 2013 there was a significant update to it which I wrote a piece on:
Quick update on Talkback

Now that you’ve got your device up and running, it’s a good point to mention a few housekeeping tips on keeping your phone safe and secure:

Android Housekeeping pt 1: Staying safe using Android

Android housekeeping pt 2: Advertising and Analytics

Android housekeeping pt 3: Keeping your device in shape

Once you are up and running with your device and happily downloading apps, I’d encourage you to share your app experiences with others.  A good way of doing this is by rating them on the Google Play Store.  Paritcularly for Talkback users this isn’t as obvious as we might hope, so here is an overview of rating apps:

Reviewing Android apps on the Play Store.

The keyboard is one of the main things you’ll use to interact with your new device, whether to write email, search for cool apps, or write a reminer to buy milk on the way home, so let’s compare some of the different offerings:

On-screen Keyboards

Many users would like to skip interacting with the keyboard and simply dictate commands and queries to their device.  While I personally resisted for as long as I could, I have sat down to see what I could do with “OK Google”:

Ok Google voice commands and dictation

If you are running a version of Android earlier than 4.2 or a rooted device and wanting large print, then one of these font enlargement apps will probably be an essential item for you – they enlarge the font in all kinds of places from the settings to the Play store to Gmail and more:

Font enlargement apps

If you are willing to install a custom ROM on your phone, you can access settings which are otherwise hidden, such as the font size mentioned above. Here are some of the settings you can adjust to make the font larger, and how they affect your apps:

Adjusting Android screen resolution, pixel density and font size for large print

Whether to root your Android device and install a custom ROM is a complex question, here is my guide on what it is, what the process is and my experience with doing it:

Rooting Android and installing a custom ROM – Part 1: Overview

Rooting Android and installing a custom ROM – Part 2: The process

Rooting Android and installing a custom ROM – Part 3: My experience/a>

Looking back to the original purpose for mobile phones, you may occasionally want to actually ring or SMS someone. Depending on the phone you have and the launcher you are using, you may want to investigate some of these large print alternatives for phone dialer and SMS apps:

Dialer and text messaging replacements

One very useful feature of modern phones is the camera, and one great way of using it as someone with low vision, is to zoom in and magnify things. While you can do this with the standard camera app, there are other apps which make performing the task even easier:

Magnifier Apps

Most Android devices come with a basic calculator as one of the built in apps, but some aren’t as accessible as others and many people want a more sophisticated calculator.  Here are some of the options available:

Android Calculators

The default GMail / E-Mail apps included pre-installed on most Android phones don’t offer much in terms of large print, so I’ve rounded up some of the alternatives here:

Comparison of E-Mail apps

While we all justify our phones for productive or communication needs, I know you like games just as much as I do. Here’s some which are a bit easier to see for low vision users:

Low vision Android games

And here are some games which are accessible with the Talkback screen reader – some of which are speech only, and some have print which reads with Talkback and most of which can be played by people with any amound of sight:

Android games for Talkback users

As a slight departure from Android, I also wrote a post on screen resolution VS DPI in Microsoft Windows: https://qchristensen.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/resolution-vs-dpi/

Finally, now that you’ve exhausted what I’ve written to date, I’ve started to compile links to other blogs / information and resources about Android accessibility on my Links to other resources page.

More to come soon and if there is anything you’d like to see me cover, please get in touch or leave me a comment!

5 thoughts on “Welcome to Go you Big Blog!

  1. Quentin I have a Samsung galaxy Tab4 and have Darwin Reader which I have problems navigating from one section to the next. Is there a specific tutorial that could help me and also is there an alternaive reader that I could try.
    John Corbett

  2. Ah now I remember that was my experience too – A couple of suggestions from the VI-Android list on this subject just today (thanks Øyvind and Christopher) were: Smart Audiobook player: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ak.alizandro.smartaudiobookplayer and Librivox: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=biz.bookdesign.librivox – Librivox looks like it has its own library so you wouldn’t be able to access Vision Australia books, but Smart Audiobook Player doesn’t have a library and assumes you have otherwise downloaded the books to your device already, so you’d log in to i-Access using your browser (Firefox tends to work best if you are using Talkback) and download, then use Smart Audiobook Player to listen. I had searched for “DAISY” on the Play store with little success beyond the already mentioned apps, but just did a search for “audiobook” and found a lot more – some are players and some are libraries, but looks like it’s worth having a look through.

  3. Thank you Quentin. That option has been downloaded and seems to work fine however it leads me to another question and I certainly hope that I am not imposing too much on you. I have subscribed to download newspapers from Vision Australia and find that they are not accepted by most of the readers – only the Darwin which will not allow me to skip from one section to the next. Is there any way that I can convert the newspaper file so that I can have it played back on Smart Audio boook Reader.
    I have also read your blog on font sizes and have already had success with these.

    Keep up the good work – your blog is excellent value for novices like me.
    Best wishes,

    John Corbett

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