(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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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”:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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!