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Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen, and this is Mosen At Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking. This week, feedback from some who’ve upgraded to Windows 11, thoughts on iOS and Android topics and meet Voxmate, an Android suite offering powerful, simple accessibility.
Jonathan Mosen: It is splendid to be back with you, splendid. That’s not a word you hear used very often these days, is it? I think it is such a cool word, but we’ve got a lot to cover over the next couple of hours.Let’s get to it and begin by telling you that there is another Apple event coming up. Yes, it’s true. It’s quite a rare one, because it’s happening on a Monday. Not too often that you get a Monday Apple event. But it is happening in the US at [10:00] AM Pacific Time, this coming Monday, that is the 18th of October. We can expect a few nuggets possibly, like AirPods being announced, but we do anticipate that the major focus of this event is the Mac. We’ll likely hear a release date for the latest version of their operating system and see some new hardware based on a new generation of Apple silicon.
You’ll remember that when the last Macs were announced, the first with Apple silicon, it really did take the world by storm and is every bit as good as Apple said that they would be in terms of battery life and performance. And so now, the pressure is on to give us new hardware that wows even more and achieves even greater heights of performance. We won’t have a special on this one, but we will of course be talking about the event extensively next week. If you follow Mosen At Large on Twitter, I will be tweeting a lot of articles about the announcements, so you can be up to speed right away. Of course, you can watch the keynote. It’s likely to be audio described on the Apple website. If you go to apple.com, you should see it there. You can also watch it on the Apple TV and on YouTube as well.
Historically, YouTube has not carried the audio description because it hasn’t been possible for YouTube to carry multiple tracks. If you wanted an audio described version of the video, you needed to upload a separate audio described version to YouTube. That will be changing, but I think the safe bet is to make sure if you want the audio description, to catch it via Apple’s channels and not via YouTube. All that will be happening and if you have any reactions that you would like to share to what Apple announced, feel free to send it in over the week, we will include a selection of those reactions in next week’s episode.
Jonathan Mosen: This email comes from Owais Patel and he says, “Hello Jonathan and fellow Mosen At Large listeners. I hope you are all doing well. Firstly, I would like to say that I am somewhat hesitant to update to Windows 11 because there may be bugs. Therefore, I won’t be jumping on the car just yet. However, I would like to ask you, Jonathan, which computer PC/laptop do you use to run your radio business that you often refer to as the beast due to its level of power?” Well, we usually call it the mushroom pot Owais. That’s what we call it. It’s custom built. My son-in-law, the famous Henry Taylor, well, he’s famous to me because he is my son-in-law, he and I geek out on these things. And so we carefully select, hand pick all of the components and then Henry builds the PC and test it. I do some testing too and sometimes we swap things out.
For example, in the recent carnation of the mushroom pot, which is mushroom pot 2.0, we actually did start with a mechanical drive, and I decided that solid state was actually a better option. And so we addressed that. We do make little changes to it all the time. That is one of the advantages of building a PC from scratch. He does a really good job and we have a lot of fun geeking out on this. I said to him, “You should start building PCs and selling them. We could do a sponsorship deal on Mosen At Large, and you could buy a PC made by Henry Taylor.” I said to him, “You could call it Taylor made PCs.” Anyway, it’s a lot of fun and I’m really pleased with how the mushroom pot is going just purring away behind me here in the studio. It’s a really great, reliable, robust and powerful computer. I’m knocking on the wood as I speak.
Secondly Owais says, Speaking of Siri, I would definitely say that Siri doesn’t even come close to Google Assistant, my favorite personal assistant. It knows information, has very good features, and does not lack any development, in my point of view. Now I have a Louis Armstrong song in my head. (singing) because Ed Green’s writing in and he says, “Hi Jonathan, I enjoyed your feature with Matt and Terry on Windows 11. I upgraded today and will make three observations starting from worst to best. Firstly, as you discussed, the start menu and system trade changes are woeful. Enough said. Secondly, I don’t think I’ve experienced anything more ineffective than Windows 11’s startup sound since Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. Thirdly, and this may be reason enough for many screen reader users to upgrade, screen readers no longer cut out when joining online meetings with Bluetooth headsets.”
I don’t know if this problem was universal in Windows 10, but many people I know, including I, had this issue, even if they set their sound card so that apps could not take exclusive control. To illustrate that you will never please everyone in life. Here’s somebody who is pleased by the sounds.
Rebecca says, “I love the Windows 11 sounds and the start menu, but the settings app is going to take some getting used to. When I enter the settings app, I notice how Microsoft services take priority after the system buttons. I really wish Microsoft would replace input and output with speaker/headphone and mic. Let’s get some natural language in Windows. Windows 11 works great on my Lenovo laptop with its 11th generation processor and AMD Ryzen 5 3500U, but not so well on my surface laptop. Go with an Intel i5 10th generation processor. The unit got hotter than usual and I immediately reverted to Windows 10 on that machine. JAWS 2021 is working well on my Lenovo, but was sluggish on my laptop surface go when I installed Windows 11. Once I downgraded back to Windows 10, JAWS 2021 became more responsive on my surface laptop go. Maybe I’ll try upgrading that unit again once JAWS 2022 comes out. I really hope Microsoft refreshes its line of surface laptop go machines by replacing the Intel processor with the AMD Ryzen processor. It doesn’t get nearly as hot as the Intel processor.”
Thanks Rebecca, your comments on the settings are interesting because Microsoft is getting justifiably in my view, a lot of flack for the way that they are making it so difficult for you to change your default browser in settings. Now Firefox has very cleverly gotten around this by changing all the different files types for you. The issue is that in Windows 10 you can go in and specify what browser you want to be your default. You can choose from any modern browser that’s on your system. I’ve got Chrome and Brave and of course Edge, which comes bundled with the operating system. It’s a very straightforward process in Windows 10 to choose your default.
In Windows 11, there’s no one setting that lets you switch your default browser. You have to go in and change all the file types that a browser might use. Good on Firefox for going in there and manipulating the file types. I presume that Chrome will catch up. But it really is Microsoft behavior of old. I think many of us hoped that Microsoft would have learned their lesson from the days when they nearly got unbundled because of this behavior.
This email comes from Christopher Wright who says, “Hello Jonathan, I listened to your latest podcast on an unsupported computer running Windows 11.” Whoa, what a rebel! “It’s an HP Z200 workstation with an Intel CPU from 2009.” Goodness gracious. “It doesn’t have TPM or UEFI and it works just fine with a few modifications to the registry from the installer. The only technical requirement is a 64-bit CPU. Everything else is artificial. I also found a way to bypass the mandatory Microsoft account requirements in the home edition. It’s working like a champ on my 12 year old unsupported hardware. This is Vista 3,0 or 4.0, if you want to include Windows ME. Microsoft never seems to learn. Is it because they’ve fired or otherwise let go of the folks involved with ME Vista and 8.1?”
Don’t worry. Windows 12 is right around the corner to fix the latest disaster. Oh wait, there’s more. We’ll move to really unlucky Windows 13 where they will continue to make the same mistake. I can’t wait. Are you excited? I predict the backlash will be so severe that Microsoft will do one of three things. They’ll eliminate the artificial requirements, extend Windows 10 support past 20 25, or come out with Windows 12 in a year and insist everyone forget about their latest failure, just like they did with Windows 7 and Windows 10. I don’t think Windows 7 was that great since it was Vista with the bugs fixed, and I hate Vista, but unlike 7, 10 is really cool. Windows 11 brings me closer to the things I love, which includes Linux, Windows 10, Mac OS X Snow Leopard, and Windows XP. The last two running offline only for obvious reasons. Microsoft doesn’t own any of my computers and they don’t have the right to dictate what I can or can’t run on them.
Siri was revolutionary when it first came out, I got my first iPhone 4 in 2012 and was very disappointed Siri wasn’t available. This seems like yet another artificial restriction, presumably to force people to buy the 4S which was a cash grab for Apple in the same way Microsoft is going with Windows 11. I run Google now on that iPhone just fine. Sadly, Apple has fallen behind their competition and they don’t care to change that reality. I use Siri very infrequently, instead opting to use the soup drinker 99% of the time and Google Assistant for information retrieval. Digital assistance haven’t really improved that dramatically. I don’t expect that to change unless we make significant breakthroughs, in the same way, a fully automated navigation or an information system with object recognition for blind people is a pipe dream. The HomePod was Apple’s lame attempt, that’s not my ableist language, to compete with Amazon and Google. Sure, it’s grace, if you don’t mind being locked into Apple’s ecosystem with Siri’s limitations. Otherwise it’s garbage. If any of the assistants is going to survive, it will be the soup drinker.
Terry Hedgepath is in touch. She says, “Hello Jonathan, I hope you are doing well. I do hear from Bonnie now and then on the Seeing Eye Clubhouse line and chat with her. As far as Siri goes, I am with you a hundred percent on the disappointment side. It feels like Siri has consistently made two steps forward and one or two steps backward. Like you, I felt we should have already had the ability to do just as you said, to find the cheapest fair, to make a reservation on the fly. Pun intended. It feels like the Siri team stopped thinking forward and lost their creative ability. I know that in large organizations like Apple, a small branch like Siri can easily lose traction with the lead group and become a lower priority. But is this due to the Siri team not coming up with outrageous ideas that take Siri to the next level? Either way the progress has been dismal at best.”
Speaker 1: What’s on your mind, send an email with a recording of your voice or just write it down. Jonathan@mushroomfm.com. That’s J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomfm.com or phone our listener line. The number in the United States is 86460 Mosen. That’s 864-606-6736.
Jonathan Mosen: A follow up now to our discussions on being a disabled parent. “Hi Jonathan from Dawn. My comment on blind people having children is more about other people’s foregone conclusions. The first thing my mother said to me when I told her I was going to get married was, ‘I hope you weren’t planning to have any kids.’ It didn’t seem to occur to her that I might actually want children and that there was no reason I shouldn’t. My blindness isn’t hereditary, it was more that she was of the opinion that I somehow wouldn’t be able to handle the practicalities of having babies. At the time I didn’t react, but having seen other blind parents who have children and are wonderful parents, I think back and wish I had pointed out that I would be quite capable. It seems a pity to me that sighted people feel it is impossible for a blind person to be a successful parent.”
Thanks Dawn, and even if your blindness had been hereditary, I would still say, go for it, because it is far better to have a child in the world who is blind and loved and supported and nurtured, than a child who has none of those things who isn’t disabled and has non-disabled parents.
(singing), oh, I’m sorry. (singing) that’s a great old song and it’s very appropriate because James Austin is writing in and says, “You are probably already aware of this, but there is an update for the 5th Generation Focus displays. This includes the ability to wrap words when reading with the scratch pad. I have not downloaded the update yet, but I’m hoping that it also works when writing with the scratchpad. There is also an option to invoke reverse panning.” He says, “Hope you, Bonnie, and the rest of the family are well, look forward to your next episode. Keep safe.”
Yes, we are doing our best James and I did read this. Freedom Scientific tweeted this a couple of weeks ago and I read that and I thought that is really good news. I do have my Focus display here. It’s now not my primary Braille display, but I will update it and these are welcome developments. Things never stand still with technology, do they? There are also updates available for HumanWare’s Braille display line, which also includes the APH Mantis and the APH Chameleon. The APH Mantis is the one that I am using as my Braille display of choice because of its qwerty input.
Now, there’s quite a bit in these updates, including a universal clipboard, which means that if you’re writing, you can paste a bit of text over to whatever your terminal is connected to. I say a bit of text because the clipboard’s very limited in this regard. I think it’s about 300 odd characters, which really isn’t a lot, but it is a bit and that’s appreciated. You could, for example, have made a note on your display, your Brailliant, your Mantis, your Chameleon, and then you can copy it to the clipboard, go into terminal mode. If you are running notepad on your computer or Word, or you might be running Ulysses on your iPhone, you can then paste that material across and it takes a wee while to paste in, but that is quite a cool feature. Bookmarks in the editor as well are very welcome. You’ve had this in the book reader for some time, the ability to set bookmarks and come back to them. Now you can do that when editing documents and that’s really good. These devices just keep becoming more and more capable.
Tabba: Hi Jonathan, this is Tabba speaking in Botswana, Africa. Let me also give my comment on and write. The first thing I would like to say, is that I will soon switch back to iOS. I just started using Android back in February, but no, no, no, I can’t keep with it. As I use it, TalkBack decides to go silent during the process. For instance, when I receive a long message on WhatsApp, it’ll just tell me the time I received the message and that’s it. Maybe it’ll be like [6:20] PM when I tap on that message. Really, I can’t keep up with Android because of what TalkBack does. I tried to use commentary, but also I still see the same problem. I’m using the latest version of TalkBack on Samsung, A21s, which runs Android 11. Really I am reverting back to iOS. I’m trying to organize an iPhone.
Jonathan Mosen: Thank you very much for your comments Tabba and here’s someone who says, “I don’t really want to get involved in this debate by name, but there are some issues about which I would be interested in your comments in the fullness of time, if at all possible. I’ll listen out for them on the podcast. Whether they are dealt with or not, I leave to your discretion. By way of background, I use a Samsung S20 FE, provided by my employer, otherwise I would not have been able to do any comparison at all. First you asked Ed Green about RSS readers. I haven’t been able to find much. I would go so far as to say that except for speech central, which seems to me to qualify as an RSS reader, I don’t think there is any that works for us. I tried a thing called Flym Reader that is spelt F-L-Y-M Reader, but it unfortunately gave me some trouble with a few of my feeds.
It seems to be a recognized issue, but Flym Reader’s developer seems like they content themselves with blaming it on the feeds themselves. I didn’t find that it worked for me, while on iOS many of them work quite well. I will pause there and say I don’t have a huge amount of time to play, but I have tried to find an RSS reader that comes even close to Lire, that’s spelt, L-I-R-E on iOS, and I have not found anything on Android that comes even close at this point.”
Our contributor continues. “Second, I never got the hang of notifications. They are bundled and expandable, but I never found out how to read through them reliably. Android users claimed they were manageable or that I should just get used to it. I am still not sure of what the consensus was. I tapped this and that and then gave it up. Third, I found that I had to swipe down twice each time I wanted to open the notification shade while the official version is that once ought to be good enough. This wasn’t even inconsistent, it was twice each and every time.” Yeah, I can understand why that would be frustrating. I can’t duplicate that on my particular device, the S21, I just swipe down once from the top of the screen and it is very reliable for me. I don’t know what the difference is there.
“Fourth, I wasn’t convinced that navigation was as consistent as it is in iOS. I occasionally had problems registering double taps. I sometimes just couldn’t be sure if I hadn’t skipped an item and in WhatsApp, I ended up where I didn’t need to be quite often after I had just opened up the app.” I can confirm the double tap thing. I actually made a comment about this on a previous episode. When I double tap, sometimes it just doesn’t register, and yet it does register every single time on my iPhone. I’m still playing with this. Is it that I’m not tapping heavily enough? Am I tapping too heavily? I’m finding that perhaps a lighter tap might work. It’s really strange, but it seems to be a lot more finicky. I do acknowledge that.
“Fifth, I don’t think there is anything close to Castro or Overcast available on Android yet. I have been having a look at Podcast Addict because Ed is using this and my son, Richard, who’s the Android man in the family, he’s using it as well and they both like it. I found the interface a bit overwhelming at the moment, so I just need to spend more time with it before I decide whether that’s true or not for me. But Ed did acknowledge that there isn’t an Android option he’s aware of where you can set up your podcast chapters like a playlist and simply deselect the chapters you don’t want. That is a feature I use on Castro an awful lot. Sixth. I thought that reading something on the web was more choppy than I found it to be on iOS using Safari, but it seemed to be getting slightly better over time.” Well, perhaps this is a processor thing, but I haven’t seen this, reading on the web has been quite fluent for me.
“Seventh. I found Braille screen input easier in iOS than in Android. You seem to have found a way of calibrating the keyboard, and I might therefore have to concede that it wasn’t as bad as I had thought. In fact, because I might have got Braille screen input wrong, I suspect I might have got a few other things wrong as well. The notifications issue was the biggest problem for me because I can wake up in the morning to 15 or 20 notifications, and I wanted to be able to look at them, act on them or dismiss or keep them, each one individually. I don’t want them to overlap. The RSS and podcast issues are a close second though.
I’m very interested in the answers because some aspects of the operating system are really cool. The phone is great. There are plenty of cheap options available. The angle gestures don’t bother me much. I resent what I have to pay for an iPhone, but I seem to need more than a phone. Thank you very much for the trouble you go to each week. There’s no doubt that you are a talented and accomplished podcaster, but you work very hard on the shows and the result is therefore impressive in both form and in substance.”
Well thank you very much and it’s really no trouble at all. I appreciate your contribution. If I can come back to your notifications issue, which seems to be a particular bug bear. I agree that notifications work quite differently on Android and a lot more inconsistently, it seems to me. When you expand notifications in iOS, what you’re doing is expanding a group of notifications. If you wake up in the morning and you have a whole bunch of likes and retweets and replies to a particular tweet that you’ve sent, all of those are going to be grouped together and you can double tap to expand them and review them. And then you have actions pertaining to each of those notifications, which are available to VoiceOver users via the actions rotor.
If you double tap a notification on Android to expand it, or you can usually swipe right and you’ll find an expand button there, often, and I’m not sure if it’s always, but often, doing that would actually just expand that single notification. If someone sent you a text message and you double tap to expand, then you’ll have some options pertaining to that single notification, that single message like reply and various things of that nature. One thing I would suggest you do is set up a gesture for invoking the actions. On newer phones that support the multi finger gestures, you can perform a three finger single tap to bring up the TalkBack menu, and then you find the actions button there, and you can double tap that and see what actions are available. Now, clearly that takes a bit more time than swiping up and down like you do in iOS, but you can reduce that friction a little bit by choosing a gesture that will just bring up the actions without having to go that layer into the TalkBack menu.
Sometimes when you invoke a notification and you bring up its actions, you can mark it as red, you can delete, I think the notification, but it is a little bit more inconsistent. I think that’s just a commentary on the way that Android works. Each developer has a lot more control over every aspect of the experience. That includes the way that a notification works. I understand your frustration. It’s probably something that people can get used to, but if you are really used to doing it in iOS after years of using it, it is quite jarring, I agree, to make that transition. Perhaps others can comment on Android notifications.
Jonathan Mosen: Time for our regular dose of Apple stuff coming in from listeners. We’ll start with Mark who says, “Hello sir, if I may ask for help regarding my iPhone. In Safari, every time that I do research, I cannot navigate the search results via headings. Although there are things that I was able to navigate by heading, but not the actual search results. This is also happening in my iPad Mini. I don’t know if I inadvertently changed a setting. I hope you can help me as it’s really affecting my productivity since I am still a student. PS, same problem using Firefox.” I presume that is Firefox on the phone rather than on the PC. Thanks for writing in Mark. I can’t duplicate this so I’ll tell you what settings I have in case you can verify.
First, are you sure that Google is still your search engine? Because Google will allow you to navigate by heading. Is it possible that somehow you’ve changed your search engine? That seems unlikely if it’s happening to you on both browsers. The second thing I would say is that I am signed into my Google account. I don’t know if that makes a difference to heading navigation or not, but I am signed in. When I invoke a search, either from the address bar by pressing Cmd+L if you’ve got a keyboard connected or by just double tapping the address bar and typing a search string in, or going to google.com. In both cases, I am getting headings coming back.
This could be one that other people have seen, like the issue that Mary Anne had a wee while ago with her activities that other people solved. Let’s open it up. If you have lost your heading navigation, which I completely agree is so handy to navigate between search results, then perhaps you can share your wisdom at how to get it back, because I’ve still got mine, I’m thankful to say. Jonathan@mushroomfm.com, if you have the magic formula and you can attach an audio clip or just write something down when you send in something to that email address, or you can call the listener line. My number, it’s in the United States, 86460 Mosen, 864-606-6736.
SeanTheil: Hello Jonathan, [Sean Theil here again, on apps that notify about the passage of time since they have any number of ways of doing that, whether they be Westminster chimes or speaking the time or including the ones that I like that use the ship’s bells, S-H-I-P as in Papa, apostrophe S, bells, method of announcing the time. Anyway, anytime there’s a significant rewrite to notifications, these get broken. IOS 9, when we had interactive notifications and we could manage, did we want the notifications to happen from the notification itself? It definitely broke these apps then, it’s just been a long time since notifications have been reworked. And so we’ve forgotten about this.
Most of the time, it is usually corrected in the first minor release of iOS often without the developer needing to do anything, which is handy because quite often what I find is that people get apps going that announce the time and they think, woo hoo, I’m done, I don’t need to do anything else. Well, as we know, Apple giveth and taketh away. And so now one application that is also currently broken, but that does get updates regularly is called in the store Voice Over Clock. However, on your home screen, if you use it, it will be called voice clock. That application does receive updates fairly regularly. I use it to tell me the time every five minutes when I’m getting ready for work in the morning. Since it’s not working, I do have to be a little more vigilant and not as distracted when I’m in the shower or listening to music or whatnot. I am eagerly awaiting these apps to work properly again as well.
Jonathan Mosen: Thank you very much for that perspective Sean. Notifications seem to be a particularly sensitive area where voiceover is concerned. When they make changes to notifications, one of the things that often gets broken, is what I would call for want of a better term, the infinite scrolling that you can do. When I wake up in the morning, I have a lot of notifications from news apps and various social media, that kind of thing. It is quite common when they make changes to notifications for that infinite scrolling to break. So you can only scroll so far and then you hit a wall and you can’t scroll any further. And the only way to scroll to your remaining notifications is to delete some of the other notifications. Luckily, we seem to have been spared the grief of this with the notification changes that have been made in iOS 15, but this good old chestnut is back. You are right.
This email is from LeDon, who says like you I think that having to listen to a lot of emojis being described as a waste of time. I heard you say in a recent email that you turned off emojis in Clubhouse, will you please tell me how to do that? Your help is very much appreciated. Thanks a bundle. Well, since you ask so nicely, I’ll be very happy to go through this. The secret is in the activities settings of voiceover. So you can go to voiceover settings by telling Siri to take you there. Or you can double tap settings accessibility, and then voiceover, and then you want to locate.
Speaker 2: Activities button.
Jonathan Mosen: There’s activities. So I’ll double tap.
Speaker 2: Programming button.
Jonathan Mosen: There is that famous programming activity that we discussed recently in Mosen at large, which causes every punctuation and other symbol thing to be read out. So you can delete that if you want, you can swipe up.
Speaker 2: Delete.
Jonathan Mosen: And delete the programming activity. I’m going to flick right.
Speaker 2: Clubhouse button, actions available.
Jonathan Mosen: And there is my Clubhouse activity, which I have created now. You will need to create this. And so you can double tap the ad activity button and give it a name. And if you only want to suppress emojis in Clubhouse, then you could call it Clubhouse. But there are other places that you might like to suppress emojis as well, such as on social media sites, where a lot of emojis are used. I’m going to double tap the Clubhouse activity so that I can show you what’s inside.
Speaker 2: Select activities, back button.
Jonathan Mosen: There are many things that you can customize in activities, and I’m not going to go through them all now. You can explore this at your leisure, but I’m going to navigate by heading because Apple has very thoughtfully organized these settings by group. And they are navigable by heading.
Speaker 2: Clubhouse heading. Speech and audio settings heading verbosity settings heading.
Jonathan Mosen: There’s the verbosity settings. And that’s where you will find the option to suppress emojis. So if I flick right.
Speaker 2: Punctuation default button emojis off button.
Jonathan Mosen: And there is the emoji setting. It is on by default, but you can turn it off here for this activity. So having done that, how do you make it come up in Clubhouse? I’m going to continue to navigate by heading.
Speaker 2: Braille settings, heading. Automatic switching heading.
Jonathan Mosen: And the automatic switching option is the one we want. If I flick right.
Speaker 2: Apps, Clubhouse button.
Jonathan Mosen: What you do here is if you double tap this button, you can specify apps that you want this activity to apply to. So you just simply nominate the Clubhouse app, which is available from the list of apps. If you double tap this button, and then every time you go into Clubhouse, emojis will be suppressed. Genius. Now, if like me, you own Airtags, this email from Kathy Blackburn may be of interest to you. She says the email below comes from Laura legendary founder of Elegant insights Braille jewelry. I don’t own Airtags or tiles for that matter says Kathy, but I have bought and wear Laura’s jewelry. She custom made cane charm for me, after one of my seeing eye dogs died. It’s shaped like a bone and has forward in Braille on it. And the email from Laura says we’ve been working on this new cane charm, for a while, and it’s finally launched and live on Elegant insights.
If you purchased those super cool tracking tags from Apple and have been looking for a way to attach it to your white cane, keep reading. Our follow the dot tracking tag holder cane charm has the same clip at the top that all of our cane charms have. And it’s meant to snap onto the cord at the top of the handle grip. Some like to clip them to the loop end, others like to loosen the knot at the top of the grip and clip it there. Still others have a little bit of room between the top end of the cane and the knot, so they can attach their cane charms there. Wherever you find most practical, you’ll be able to track and locate your cane once you insert the tracking tag into the silicon ring on our follow the dot tag holder. The silicon rings are available in several colors from pale pastel to basics, and you can even personalize your cane charm by choosing a single initial alpha letter charm that we are attached to a short length of chain.
Our Follow the dot tracker tag holder cane charm is just $20 dollars. Plus our usual flat rate shipping. Note that we do not sell the Airtags, so you’ll have to get yours from Apple. I’ve been wear testing one on my own cane for a couple of months now, and it works perfectly, says Laura. If you set your cane down somewhere and cannot remember where you left it, you’ll be glad to have your tracker tag set up and ready to go via the find feature on your iPhone or iPad. Now, this sounds brilliant. I think I’ll have to get one of these because it’s so annoying when you fold your cane up and you put it down somewhere and you can’t find it. And of course, if you’ve got one of the newer iPhones, then you’ve got the precision finding so the iPhone will guide you right to your cane. If you’ve got one of the Airtags attached to it. If you want one, then you can buy one at Elegantinsightsjewelry.com, that’s Elegantinsightsjewelry.com. Thank you for telling us about this Kathy.
Michael Pantelidis: Hi Jonathan, Michael Pantelidis from Melbourne Australia. Still in lockdown, hoping to reopen soon. Enjoying the show very much. Keep up the great work. I have just installed iTunes on my Windows 10 laptop. XPS 13, and it doesn’t seem to want to play ball with JAWS 2021. Would you have any suggestions on how I can get around this or any other suggestion on how I can transfer music etcetera to my iPhone from the computer?
Jonathan Mosen: Good to hear from you, Michael. And there’s another person whose name I’ve been mispronouncing. I’ll try and remember how to do it properly next time you send in a written email. Now, when you tell me that it’s not playing ball, it doesn’t give me very much to go on with, because I don’t understand what it’s doing and what it’s not doing. One thing I will say is that the F6 key is your friend in iTunes. You can press F6 to get to different parts of the iTunes user interface, including the edit box, which is a kind of anchor point where you can search for things in the edit box. So you may want to try pushing F6 repeatedly and see how you get on. iTunes is really just quite yucky. And if you want to bypass it altogether, if all you want to do is transfer music to your iPhone, then again, I would recommend Waltr, which I’ve talked about repeatedly on this show over the years. It’s spelled W A L T R, and it is a PC app that you install that can replace iTunes.
You can copy and paste into it, and Waltr will decide where your file needs to go. So if you copy MP3 or M4A files across, or for that matter FLAC files, it’ll put them in the music app. If you copy a ring tone file, it will put it in the ring tone section and so on and so fifth. So give it a shot. WALTR PRO is their latest version. You can find it at softorino.com that’s S O F T O R I N O.com. Now, if you want to tame the iTunes beast, you might like to check out the Hartgen consultancy website because I just checked and they do still have the iTunes course available.
So one presumes that it is still current and relevant. iTunes really hasn’t changed a lot in the last year or three, so I’m sure it is still relevant. You can check out hartgen.org and go to the courses section for their course called, Get iTuned into audio. And if you’re a Leasey user, and if you’re not, and you use JAWS I highly recommend that you get Leasey, because it’s got so many cool little nuggets. It’s like a Swiss army knife of productivity. Then there are some iTunes features built into Leasey that you may find useful as well. So there’s a couple of reasons to potentially check out the Hartgen consultancy website.
Harun: Ah, Mr. Mosen, the purpose of this quick note was that I was wondering if I could get you to verify a small test for me since the beginning of iOS 15 public beta cycle, there was yet another bug that crept into iOS when you are in a text edit field. My preference was that I liked to have the onscreen keyboard also visible when using the Bluetooth keyboard, for main control. My reason for that was that I like to sometimes perform small functions using the onscreen keyboard as well. For example, if I decide, I want to delete a bunch of characters. For some time now the external keyboard doesn’t repeat irrespective of how long you hold down the backspace key. For example, it used to do one and then a few seconds later, it would run right back to the beginning. That stopped in iOS 14 or actually probably in iOS 13.
But what happens is now when I make the keyboard viewable, the moment I press a character on the external keyboard, the status of the onscreen keyboard goes unviewable. When I do a magic tap to invoke dictation, for example, if the keyboard is unviewable, it’ll just play music or do something. And I like you I’m sure have submitted many, many feedback tickets to Apple. And I think in the 363 feedback reports that I’ve submitted to Apple since 2013, I’ve had a reply to one of them. Now I’m a great believer in consultation, over confrontation. I’m a developer myself and I can understand roadmaps and I know how things work, but I also feel that many people such as yourself and myself have spent a bunch of money on Apple product. I’ve been loyal to it. I’ve tried other alternatives and yeah, they’re improving but on the whole, my observation only is that for the type of workflow that I use, I still think that for me anyway, iOS is king, but it’s seriously broken in many ways.
And it’s unacceptable. It’s not like we pay half price for a device. We pay like everybody else and accessibility and its functionality is not something that is added onto the device afterwards. It’s not like the Talks days. It’s touted as one of the benefits of iOS this universal access, but it’s becoming less universal. I mean, I would be even satisfied with the fact. Yes, okay, here you are Harun. Here’s an acknowledgement to your feedback.
It might take us a little while to fix this, but here is a possible workaround. And I’ve even sent screen recordings and quite in depth descriptions of what the problem is and how I go about generating it, which is what they ask you to do. And all of the CIS reports and everything else, logs and everything that I send. And they just seem to go into oblivion. And I find that offensive. I think that it’s rude. Particularly from a company whose ethos claims to be friendly and we care about our customers. But I’m just not feeling that care at the moment. And if I had an alternative, like if Android was an alternative, I would very seriously consider it, but it’s not.
Jonathan Mosen: That is Harun from Australia with that feedback. Thanks for getting in touch, Harun. Unfortunately, I can’t duplicate this issue. Well, fortunately for me. I started by checking in with my APH Mantis, which is my Braille display that has a Bluetooth keyboard. And it’s the only Bluetooth keyboard I use with my iPhone, now. I take my Mantis with me. I’ve got a QWERTY keyboard, I’ve got Braille. And when I opened an app such as the Messages app or notes, I did find the virtual keyboard was sitting there as well as the physical keyboard. When I started to type the virtual keyboard remained visible. So, then I dug out one of my Apple wireless keyboards, because I used to before the Mantis days had one at home and one at my office. I got that out and repaired it with my phone. And I found that everything was working okay there as well.
There’s a button on the keyboard that actually toggles whether the keyboard on the screen is visible or not. And when I pressed that it did what I expected it to do, I could hide it and make it visible again. That said, I am running the beta of iOS 15.1. So it’s possible they have finally fixed your bug. I hadn’t noticed it before though. So I’m thinking that I haven’t been affected by this, which makes me wonder if you’ve performed any of the magic resets that might set your phone back to a default. But no, unfortunately for you, I can’t duplicate the problem. That doesn’t though take away from your overall feedback about Apple’s lack of responsiveness. Some elements of the blind community have been concerned about this for a long time. NFB passed a resolution about it some years ago, somewhat controversially. I fully supported that resolution.
And when Apple introduced a public beta program, because there was a point where you had to be a developer and pay for an Apple developer account, if you wanted access to the beta program, everybody was gleeful and said, yes, this will be the end of our troubles because more people will be testing. And at the time I wrote a blog post and I said, I’m not quite so sure about this. Just because they’re getting more data doesn’t mean they’re going to do anything meaningful with that data. So, I believe that there is a little bit of a disconnect between those bug reports that are filed and the Apple accessibility team. So I don’t know. Maybe somebody else can comment on your keyboard issue if they’re experiencing it. Let’s go to blue Hawaii and hear from Lance who says: “Aloha Jonathan. Long time, no email. I’ve been thinking maybe my next email will be a recording for my favorite recording app, Just press record, especially as it is now in stereo.
When I hear other people’s recordings on the podcast, I get really cold feet, but I’ll try one. Oh, please do Lance. Everybody’s very welcome. He continues. I am emailing you because I am having some problems with my Mantis when using it with my phone. When I am editing in email, I try to go to the word or letter that’s in error, but sometimes it doesn’t go to that letter or word. I would need to use the up down left and right arrow keys. Is it my phone? Am I missing something? How do you do editing with your Mantis and phone? I would really appreciate your answer to this very much. Thanks very much, Lance. Well, I’m wondering whether you are experiencing the issue that some people have where, because the iPhone’s current system works differently from Windows.
Some people get confused, but if you’re having to up and down arrow that doesn’t sound like it’s the issue that you’re experiencing. I generally find that by pressing a cursor routing key, I am in the vicinity of where I need to be. Again, you’ve got to be mindful that the cursor or character positioning is slightly different in iOS. But other than that, I don’t think I’ve experienced any issue like that. So not much help on this, but perhaps somebody else can comment on any issues they may be seeing with the Mantis and rooting the cursor to where they need to be. I presume you are using the cursor routing keys.
Speaker 3: On Twitter, follow Mosen at large, for information about the podcast, the latest tech news and links to things we talk about on the podcast. That’s Mosenatlarge, all one word, on Twitter.
Jonathan Mosen: In this era of accessible smartphones, a world of information and entertainment awaits. The only trouble is while some blind people thrive using today’s screen reader technology. There are many people who find it a frustrating struggle. Now dedicated hardware is an option, but that means that the cost of expensive proprietary hardware has to be passed on to the consumer. The openness of Android makes another approach possible, and that is an intuitive software solution with simple gestures that can be updated and expanded regularly. And that’s the objective of a new software suite for Android called Voxmate. To tell me about Voxmate, I’m joined by Gleb Zebkov and Jakob Rosin. Good to have you both here from Estonia, where a lot of good software happens, right?
Jakob Rosin: Apparently it does. There’s a lot of software now. There’s even more. I’m glad to be here.
Gleb Zevkov: Yes. Thanks for having us.
Jonathan Mosen: Gleb could I start with you? I’d like to understand the origins of Voxmate, how this thing came to be, because I know it’s something you’ve been working on for a good couple of years now.
Gleb Zevkov: So it all started with my co-founder Katja. She’s not here today with us, but in spirit and listening probably. Her father started losing vision, maybe four or five years ago in one eye at first. And then just like that, he lost vision in the other eye. And suddenly we were in a very strange situation because he needed all sorts of help. He was freaking out and dealing with this life-changing event. Now we tried all sorts of things. We tried figuring out how we could help?
We tried putting audio books on MP3 players, so he could just play an audio book from where he was and then switch out to a different MP3 player, so it was simple for him while he was at the hospital. And then we even tried getting him an iPad and then we taught ourselves voiceover so we could teach him voiceover. But then he couldn’t really take to it. He couldn’t understand the way it works and a lot of things that he wanted to do, for example, just read the news or something like that wasn’t really that accessible to him, especially. So we thought of a better way. That’s why we’re here today.
Jonathan Mosen: What about those proprietary devices that I talked about there in the intro that are run on Android? Things like the Blindshell classic, which seems quite popular. Is that not a viable option?
Gleb Zevkov: Oh, of course it is. I mean, the way I think about it is that that there are many ways to do these sort of things. But we wanted to target a slightly different idea. First, we wanted to make the experience extremely simple and extremely easy to get into. So on one hand we have Voxmate is the simplified experience in terms of navigation. We have up, down, left and right. You swipe and you can get to a lot of stuff. And then it’s just basically cheaper. You can get into it and give it a go, faster and cheaper.
Jonathan Mosen: I mean, you’ve gone about this so meticulously and methodically because it’s taken a couple of years to get the product to market, right? What’s that couple of years been like?
Gleb Zevkov: We are working on a next level solution in terms of Voxmate. We think of it as a platform for audio first applications, instead of solving the problem, we’re trying to solve the meta problem of how to write accessible software. And you see in that vein also all of these solutions, they have kind of different dynamics to them. We are trying to build a system where it’s easy for developers to create audio first content. And then it’s easy for the user to use their audio first content.
And that’s the difference that Voxmate’s trying to bring. From the early onset because I’m a developer, I thought of the problem as how can we get basic functionality? How can we get more advanced functionality? How can we get all of these things together from the developer point of view so that it would be a breeze to create this software. So, that’s how Voxmate get started. And that was the idea from the get go. To create this kind of platform experience. Having said that already filled it with a whole bunch of apps that we wrote ourselves. And now we think of Voxmate as this all in one solution.
Jonathan Mosen: And it’s so important when you’re building something like this to test with real world end-users who have experience of what’s going on. And Jakob, I suppose that’s really where you come in and you’ve been providing advice as I understand it initially on how Voxmate should work from a blind person’s point of view, is that right?
Jakob Rosin: Yes. I came into the project from really the first prototype stage. I worked as a journalist back then. I had met Katja, one of the co-founders in a different project and she invited me over, and we talked about Voxmate with Gleb and Katja, and I really liked the idea. Because one of other things in my suit of works or jobs I do is I lead the Estonian blind union. And in that job, I meet a lot of people who are just getting into the world of technology for blind and visual impaired people. And I definitely had seen the problem where people often struggle with getting the concept of a screenreader without any training. And Estonia is at the moment in a peculiar situation where we kind of have a hard time providing this kind of training in a stable manner.
So, I definitely was aware of this issue and seeing how easy the concept of Voxmate is. You have four gestures to do your navigation in the app. You just swipe up down left or right. And that’s an rather easy concept to explain to somebody who just wants to start with basics. Because when, for example, somebody loses their vision. It’s very important for them to get back some kind of connection with the world they were used to. For example, books or radio or podcasts. But if it’s hidden or if it’s blocked by a wall of complicated technology, it’s very hard for them. But I saw Voxmates helping to bring that back at least in some level for a lot of people. So that’s when I got into the project and yes, indeed, I have been working with the team all those years. We have been figuring out ways we can keep it simple, but still provide quite a big variety of features. And I hope we have managed that.
Jonathan Mosen: When I read the description of Voxmate in the Play store and Gleb contacted me to talk about Voxmate I thought I won’t personally be interested in this, but I will demonstrate it because there might be listeners who are. But I must say that’s not the case. I’ve actually found that reading the news this way in Voxmate, is a great user experience, whether you’re tech savvy or not, because a lot of news sites are cluttered. They’re full of social media banners. They’re full of little things in the middle of the story that are a distraction. And Gleb you guys have done an amazing job of scraping a range of news sources to provide an absolutely brilliant seamless experience for blind people who just want to get the facts.
Gleb Zevkov: Well, that’s right. Our goal is to reduce the noise and increase the signal in the audio experience. That’s the guiding metaphor for what we’re trying to build. And the news was the first application that we made because I have a silly joke that the news sites are not even accessible for the sighted anymore. With the banners and everything just moving around and popping up everywhere. It’s very hard to use the news. Even if you’re sighted. But when we got Katja’s father the iPod and I remember there was some bug in Safari that when you just you to the next blog, it would create a pop-up of some sort and not let you and it was completely unusable. So, that’s where we started. We thought that news is going to be important and basic entertainment concepts like podcasts, audiobooks, and radio, should be very, very easy for people to access. From what our point of view, these applications are designed specifically for people who are just dealing with sight loss. But of course can be used by anyone who wants to get the clean experience.
Jonathan Mosen: So you’ve got an SDK essentially, is that how it works? That people can build a range of applications based on an SDK?
Gleb Zevkov: We have the SDK right now that we’ve developed and we are hoping to bring it to the public sometimes soon. This is a development cycle that is very hard for a small team to accomplish. But we are working on this all the time. Yes.
Jonathan Mosen: How are you going to avoid scope creep? Because at the moment, one of the elegant things about Voxmate is its simplicity. It’s a fairly simple main menu. You drill into those menus, you’ve got sub menus, etcetera. Very straightforward layout. But is there a danger that you lose the original audience you were aiming at if all in sundry can add all sorts of apps and make the whole thing a bit more complicated?
Gleb Zevkov: Yes. I guess. That goes into a sense of what Voxmate needs to feel like. And that’s why we’re trying to figure those things out ourselves first. Before trying to get everybody on board with the audio apps building. One of the things that I found out extremely rewarding even it is to figure out how we want those audio-first experiences to be. Because when we create an app for Voxmate, we go through many drafts that fail because they’re too complicated. Many drafts fail because users come back and say, well, I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do there.
So, we feel like there’s this whole new world out there where we can figure out the appropriate UI metaphors that only makes sense with the audio first approach. Now my hope is that once we’ve figured those out a few of these metaphors settle in, we already are feeling that vibe internally when we create a new application now it’s easier. It’s more natural to do the right thing right away. And this is after years of trying this and that. I feel that when we set out and show people what we have as an idea, it’ll be easier to follow. And of course all of these applications that might come from the SDK, they will be for power users and will be opt-in. We’ll start with this basic experience and then power users will be able to add applications probably that maybe only they themselves need, if maybe it’s going to be one application per person.
Jakob Rosin: It might be also vice versa. Power users could bring experiences, which today might be complicated for the beginner users, to everybody. I think a very good example here would be a year and a half ago where we all kind of were new to the COVID situation. We were able to make a Voxmate app, which would show in a very simple way, the data in different countries of the COVID infections. This was all a new topic to everybody. This was very important for our beta users back then to access. That you could in a very quick accessible way, track the changes which occured in this land every day. So instead of providing complex tables or graphs, we where we’re just able to provide this to Voxmate users. And I think that’s a great example where power users in the future could come to help with similar situations of similar data.
Jonathan Mosen: So do you envisage a time when there will be say a Voxmate store of some kind where there will be apps in that store and you’ll be able to browse them and download the additions to Voxmate that interest you?
Gleb Zevkov: I think so. We’ll have two ways of improving Voxmates and this might come a year from now or something like that. It’s not coming anytime soon. But this is something we’re working on right now is we call them plugins, and we’ll probably call them Voxlets. But when we talk to the public we’ll say apps. And apps can use plugins and there will be a marketplace for these applications, yes.
Jonathan Mosen: At the moment then, and we will go through a demo of Voxmate in a little bit. But you’ve got connections with Telegram, which is a popular messaging app and also Reddit is close. I don’t think that’s available at the moment. But it looks like it’s on the menu. So it must be coming up quite soon. There are some obvious candidates. I would think Twitter in particular has a reasonably robust API doesn’t it? Do you envisage getting Twitter in there at some point soon?
Gleb Zevkov: Yes. We do.
Jonathan Mosen: That will be very good indeed. What’s your favorite feature Jakob of Voxmate as it currently stands?
Jakob Rosin: I think my favorite feature of Voxmate is that Telegram client. Because as you explained in news, the same simplicity is to chat on Telegram and Telegram is very open in its API as well. There are many solutions out there already, but now that people tend to be more privacy conscious, I think it’s important to support similar services and I’ve managed somehow, at least to migrate several of my friends and our groups over to telegram. So I think it’s very good platform and good way to bring in new people. So that’s my most used feature but I’m also kind of the power user side of everything. Back in the day, we didn’t have telegram. My favorite was actually podcasts to just browse around, find new, popular podcasts, popular categories, and just even briefly listen to what’s out there and discover five hours later that I just lost myself into podcasts again.
Jonathan Mosen: Gleb you’ve also got a launcher for Voxmate. Can you explain in an Android context what this means? Because I think one of the significant advantages that Android has is its openness, its configurability, its ability for Voxmate, to really replace a number of the less intuitive parts of the operating system. So when somebody set this up, it essentially means that when the phone starts up, it can go right into Voxmate, correct?
Gleb Zevkov: That’s right. So Voxmate is an Android application, as we mentioned, and we’re working on an iOS version, but it’s still some ways away. We chose Android because it is a platform that allows us to integrate way deeper into some core functionality. A prime examples would be the launcher where you could, as soon as you unlock the phone, you’re in Voxmate, and you’re in this safe territory. This is really, really convenient for people who are very uncomfortable with the phone and just want something that works right away. And another example would be the dialer when you can set Voxmate as a default dialer and you can receive and make phone calls directly from Voxmate using Voxmate metaphors. So when your Voxmate phone rings, you swipe right to answer. And when you are done talking to this person, you swipe left to cancel.
Jonathan Mosen: So when Voxmate is your default launcher on Android, does that essentially lock you into the Voxmate ecosystem? If you wanted to launch other apps, you’d have to get TalkBack up and running to do that.
Gleb Zevkov: Well, assuming that you need the other apps with TalkBack, what you would do is you would launch the app from Voxmate, Voxmate is a launcher so it launches the apps that you ask it to launch. And then if the app is accessible or self voicing, it depends on what you need to do from there. But yes, you would typically probably have TalkBack already enabled. If you’re comfortable using other applications, you can use Voxmate in TalkBack compatibility mode, which allows you to have TalkBack running alongside Voxmate, because Voxmate doesn’t take over the accessibility service, which allows side by side running of these two applications. And all you need to do then is add another finger. So swiping up becomes a swipe up with two fingers, and that bypasses TalkBack and TalkBack gestures are still available to you.
Jonathan Mosen: Now Jakob will be very aware of this too. There are lots of people who have very good ideas about how to serve the blind community, but the blind community is notoriously difficult to make money from. And you’ve got a subscription model here. Are you confident that you’ve got a model that is sustainable? Is there a danger that people will get dependent on Voxmate? And then it just doesn’t work out from a financial point of view?
Jakob Rosin: Well, depending on the user, there are many ways you can utilize Voxmate in your life. One context would be what we are mainly talking about here is just simple way of using your device. And those are one of the people we are kind of targeting ourselves too. And we see when we are able to provide contents, then people are able to provide the interest. So I think once we are able to reach enough people that’s a trouble with all starting startups that we just need to find the users we are looking for. And once they are happy with us and they are happy to provide the subscriptions, then we are more capable of providing the content and developing two products into one we envision it to be.
For all that, we are actually right now seeking contact with various blindness organizations and assistive technology specialists to talk to them about Voxmate and to maybe be able to show Voxmate to their clients, to people who have maybe recently lost vision and who might be interested in such a product. So I’m fairly confident that there is a great market there.
We don’t want to imply that we want to replace a screen reader with our solution, but it could be a little bridge between people who want to start using smartphones, but they want to do it maybe faster, or they don’t have all the necessary training available. Voxmate could be the kind of bridge to help them to the level of confident ness. It’s late in the evening, over here is probably not the word. But to help them on the level of confidence that they feel exploring more, exploring, and dipping themselves into TalkBack land or later on into voiceover land. So there are many ways you can envision Voxmate being used. And we hope that the market is out there.
Jonathan Mosen: Let’s talk about system requirements. Because I think one of the exciting things about this product is with the demographics of the blind community, many blind people are older. The majority about 80% are over the age of 65 and they acquire their blindness or severe vision loss later in life. You also have a high level of unemployment among working age blind people. So it’s a very tough demographic and the idea that you can buy a fairly low cost Android device and get access to this level of information with such an easy user interface is interesting. So Gleb, could you talk me through, if I was looking for a device that would be ideal for Voxmate, what are the system requirements like?
Gleb Zevkov: Well, let me just recommend you to get a phone such as the cheapest Samsung phone that is sold in your nearby store. Those go at around hundred euros where I’m at and because Voxmate is not that demanding it should just work from there. We charge about three pounds per month or $4 per month, something in that area for our subscription. And you can use a lot of Voxmate for free. That’s another thing to keep in mind. So yes, you can get going very, very quickly and very cheaply. If you already have a phone, maybe four five-year-old phone, that’s the rough cut off where I would maybe recommend upgrading. You could experiment with that as well. And we envision Voxmate to be a good solution, great solution for people who are experimenting, who wants something that just works and who might be price sensitive. Yeah.
Jonathan Mosen: Some Android apps run on Chromebooks. Can you put Voxmate on a Chromebook at this point?
Gleb Zevkov: We could. And we are working on porting Voxmate to many devices. I have a prototype that works on macOS but we’re a very small team. We need resources to get these products polished well enough, and this is something we must be working on right now. The biggest challenge that we have right now is convincing enough people to use the product, and to fund us. And this is a bigger order of priority. Everything can be done and we are kind of experimenting with it, but there’s a road ahead of us.
Jonathan Mosen: I specifically mentioned Chromebooks because there are some Android apps that just download from the play store and they install on Chromebook without any kind of modification necessary from the developer. But I don’t know what the criteria are for that working. So some Android apps will just load on a Chromebook, but some do not.
Gleb Zevkov: My take on these things is that you need to test. And as a developer, you need to test thoroughly. We have not tested Chromebook specifically, but some of our users have tried to get Voxmate working on a smartwatch and there were issues.
Jonathan Mosen: Right. Okay. Well, that’d be quite an amazing experience. Can you tell me a little bit more about what you get when you pay for your subscription? You were mentioning that there’s quite a bit of Voxmate, that’s free. So what differentiates subscribers and what they have access to from those who use it for free.
Gleb Zevkov: Most of the features are available for free, but there’s a time limit. And we’re not going to be talking about this time limit, because we don’t know what to set it to at the moment. It’s a couple of hours per week, something to that effect right now. So first thing you get is your lift all the time limits. The second thing you get is you get access to the launcher and you’ll be able to set up Voxmate as your launcher. And now very soon, we’ll publish an update where you’ll also be able to get CloudVoices as a benefit. These CloudVoices are of much better quality and much easier for people who are not so comfortable with TTSs just yet.
Jonathan Mosen: And you did mention the iOS version. So I just want to tease a little more about this because we do have quite a few iOS users listening to this. Do you have any kind of ETA on that and what will the iOS version be like? I presume there’s no way that you can just have Voxmate coming up and starting on iOS because apple doesn’t let that sort of thing happen. So people will need to have their expectations set for that.
Gleb Zevkov: Right. So there’s some things we can do. And there’s some things we can’t do. We’re diligently creating our version of the iOS app, but it’s going to take a while. And as soon as all things clear up financially, and in terms of our next runway and so on, we’ll give you better estimates on time. Right now, it’s just too hard to tell. But what is positive is that a lot of these things are changing. If you look at the lawsuits that are flying between Google and Apple and these stores and everything, we might see a future where Apple is not as restricted and where software can flow more freely anyway.
Jonathan Mosen: Another thing too, is that you have this social media voice forum, where people can communicate with one another about a range of topics, which I can imagine might be a challenge to police from time to time as it gets more popular, but there’s a great community.
Jakob Rosin: Yeah, probably. Once there would’ve been more people, but we wanted to give people something immediately from day one to kind of come back to tomorrow, to see if there are responses. And we’ve been trying to get our own user community going off the ground. Whether you know, the chat would be about Voxmate and maybe some feature requests or technical problems. But as you mentioned, we have general topics as well about a technology or self-growth or topics like that to just people talking. And have those possibilities there to just chats over audio pickers. It tends to be that audio based forums, in previous social networks, there have been a few apps, tend to be quite a popular, and we see that just text-based as everything tries to be now, doesn’t give so much. So if we add users voices into the mix, it all gets much more interesting. So that’s what we’re trying to do with our forum.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m really impressed with what you’ve achieved so far, and we will go into a demo now, but thank you both for coming on the podcast. We’ll keep an eye on this and wish you every success with Voxmate, going forward.
Jakob Rosin: Thank you so much.
Gleb Zevkov: Thank you so much for having us.
Jonathan Mosen: Let’s give you a brief overview of Voxmate now, and to put it through its paces, I’ve gone to the Google play store on my Samsung galaxy S21 and I’ve installed Voxmate. I’m still in the play store where I’ve installed it from, but I also have Android putting shortcuts on my home screen. I’ll double tap from the play store to launch Voxmate for the first time.
Speaker 4: Voxmate setup, heading
Jonathan Mosen: And I’ll swipe right.
Jonathan Mosen: Let’s take you through how simple the setup process is. I’ll double tap begin setup. I’m getting no immediate speech feedback. So I’m going to swipe around to find out what’s going on.
Speaker 4: No previous heading, heading. Will you be using Voxmate yourself or are you setting it up for someone? I’ll use it, button. I am the copilot, button.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m going to use it myself. So I’ll swipe back left.
Speaker 4: I’ll use it, button.
Jonathan Mosen: And double tap. And once again, I think I’m going to need to swipe right.
Speaker 4: Set up step one of five, heading. Voxmate works best without TalkBack, but they also work side-by-side if you add an extra finger to all gestures, you can change your preference later in Voxmates settings. Use without TalkBack, button.
Jonathan Mosen: For now I’m going to elect to use Voxmate without TalkBack. But as the instructions say, you can go and change this later. If you do that, then all it means is that you can keep TalkBack running and use a two finger swipe up, down, left, and right to navigate Voxmate. Now I need to swipe right again.
Speaker 4: Set up step two of five, heading. Please sign in with a Google account. Sign in with Google, button.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll pause the recording and sign in with Google. I am now signed in with Google, a very straightforward process as you’d expect on an Android device. Now I’ll swipe right.
Speaker 4: Early access offer use Voxmate with no time limit and set it up as an app launcher join during early access and get a permanent 75% discount.
Jonathan Mosen: What a deal. I will swipe right.
Speaker 4: Get a monthly subscription for just $3 and 49 cents per month is a limited time offer for early supporters. Radio, button. Get a yearly subscription for just $33 and 99 cents per year as a limited time offer for early supporters. Radio, button.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m going to go ahead and do that because I think this is a really cool app. So I will double tap this and I don’t get any confirmation that this radio button is selected, but I believe it is so I’ll continue to swipe right.
Speaker 4: Subscribe, button.
Jonathan Mosen: And double tap the subscribe button
Speaker 4: Early access offered Voxmate all in one app for the blind, current price, $33 and 99 cents per year plus tax.
Jonathan Mosen: This is obviously New Zealand dollar pricing. And I’m going to go ahead and subscribe here. It confirms my payment method and it also reminds me that I can go into subscriptions and Google play and unsubscribe at any time.
Speaker 4: Subscribe, button.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll double tap.
Speaker 4: Enter CVC.
Jonathan Mosen: It’s asking me to enter the CVC to confirm my purchase. And I’ve done that.
Speaker 4: More information about. Verify, button.
Jonathan Mosen: And double-tap verify. Now a number of things happened after I did that. I got a push notification on my iPhone where the Amex app lives telling me that I have made a successful purchase and also got a receipt from Google play. The receipts from Google play are immediate. Now I’m being asked on the S21 if I want to set up backup payment settings. And I don’t want to do that at the moment.
Speaker 4: Manage settings. No thanks, button.
Jonathan Mosen: So I’ll double tap. I should say, just in case you skipped past the interview and straight to the demo that you can use Voxmate for free. So there’s no compulsion to pay right away. You can use this for some hours per week. That limitation hasn’t yet been determined, but it is fully functional for a period. And that’s fair enough that you would want to try this out, see if it meets your needs. If you find that it is something you’re likely to use, then it’s a good thing to support them because they are a startup that just getting this thing up and running. And I think it will be really encouraging for them to continue to get paying subscribers, but by all means, skip this step if you want to, when you first install, you can come back to it at any time and subscribe should you wish to use Voxmate a lot or simply just support their work. I’ll double tap.
Speaker 4: Voxmate setup awesome, heading.
Jonathan Mosen: And flick right.
Speaker 4: A flying rocket fueled by your support zoom’s through the page, image. Thank you for subscribing and supporting our project. What’s next, button.
Jonathan Mosen: Double tap the what’s next button and swipe right.
Speaker 4: Set up step four or five, heading. It can be more comfortable to grant all permissions in one go. We only asked for necessary permissions like using your camera for scanning printed text. Grant permissions, button.
Jonathan Mosen: Double tap.
Speaker 4: Allow Voxmate to take pictures and record video while using the app, button.
Jonathan Mosen: Double tap that.
Speaker 4: Allow Voxmate to access this devices location while using the app, button.
Jonathan Mosen: Double tap all of these.
Speaker 4: Allow Voxmate to record audio while using the app, button.
Allow Voxmates to access your contacts, allow, button.
Allow Voxmate to make and manage phone calls. Allow.
Allow Voxmate to access your calendar. Allow.
Allow Voxmate to access photos and media on your device allow.
Voxmate warning: accessibility assistant is active. Voxmate is a self voicing application. Please disable your screen reader to use Voxmate. On most devices you can hold the up and down volume rocker to toggle the assistant. You may also try the TalkBack compatibility mode in Voxmate settings.
Speaker 5: Welcome. This is a short tutorial to show you the basics of Voxmate to skip the tutorial draw a counter-clockwise circle on the screen. To use Voxmate you mostly need four swipes up, down, left, and right.
Speaker 4: Try swiping up, put your finger in the middle of the screen and flick up.
Jonathan Mosen: Now I’m going to turn TalkBack off by doing what they suggest.
Speaker 5: Imagine there is a bug on the screen and you are trying to brush it off with just one finger.
Speaker 4: Try swiping up, put your finger in the middle of the screen and flick up.
Jonathan Mosen: Well, let me turn, TalkBack off.
Speaker 5: Imagine that there is a crumb on the screen.
Speaker 6: TalkBack off.
Jonathan Mosen: All right. And now we can swipe up.
Speaker 4: Try swiping up, put your finger in the middle of the screen and flick up.
Try swiping down. Put your finger in the middle of the screen and flicked down.
Speaker 5: Use up and down swipes to jump between items in menus.
Speaker 4: Try swiping left, put your finger in the middle of the screen and flick left.
Try swiping right, put your finger in the middle of the screen and flick right.
Speaker 5: Use the swipe right gesture to activate an action in menus. Use the swipe left gesture to go back. Let’s try all the gestures together. Try finding banana in this menu by swiping up or down when you find it swipe right to activate.
Speaker 4: Apple.
Jonathan Mosen: So lets flick up and down through the menu.
Speaker 4: Orange, mango, banana.
Jonathan Mosen: There’s banana. How many others are there though?
Speaker 4: Apple, orange, mango, banana.
Jonathan Mosen: So banana is the bottom of the menu. I will now flick right.
And it’s not doing anything. It has gone silent on me at this point. So I’m not sure what has happened here, but at this point I don’t have any speech at all. So I will pause the recording and see if I can recover it.
Now it has just come back and I’m not sure what it’s asking me to do at this point. So lets see if we can find that out.
Speaker 4: Berries.
Speaker 5: Try finding banana again, but this time from a sub menu.
Jonathan Mosen: Okay.
Speaker 4: Vegetables, fruits.
Jonathan Mosen: So now we have sub menus and it works the same way. So on the first screen here, we’ve got the different categories.
Speaker 4: Vegetables, fruits, sweets, berries, vegetables, fruits.
Jonathan Mosen: And obviously banana is under fruits. So I’m to swipe right to open the sub menu.
Speaker 4: Apple.
Jonathan Mosen: We’re in the sub menu now, and I can swipe up and down to navigate the menu items and swipe right to select the one I want.
Speaker 4: Banana.
Jonathan Mosen: And there’s banana. It’s the second this time.
Speaker 5: Try finding banana again, but this time from a sub menu.
Jonathan Mosen: And I’ll swipe right.
Speaker 5: Now you’ve got the basics to start using Voxmate. Pay attention to this sound. This sound indicates a helpful hint. Hints are repeated a number of times, but then stop. Here is your first hint. Did you know that we have more tutorials? You can find them in settings. Help tutorials, main menu, Voxmate.
Jonathan Mosen: This is Voxmates main menu. Now that was the setup process. And you’ve got to grant permissions and do a few things of that kind. But if you are giving this device to somebody who perhaps struggles with TalkBack and the regular user paradigm, you’re probably going to set it up for someone. And that’s why you’ve got that option that you are the copilot setting this up. So typically in that scenario, you would set this up and then you would hand it to the person who’s going to be using it full time, all set up and ready to go. And of course, because Voxmate is a launcher, you can also have this thing starting out if you want to. So let’s navigate the menu and you’ll see what’s here at the moment. The first item is phone. So if we swipe right, we can get into the phone options.
Speaker 5: Phone book
Jonathan Mosen: And there’s your phone book. This accesses your Google contacts. You will recall that we gave permission to access your contacts when we set this up, I’ll swipe down.
Speaker 5: Dial a phone number.
Jonathan Mosen: And then we’ve got a key pad that will come up if we go in here to the dial a phone number option.
Speaker 5: Settings.
Jonathan Mosen: And there are settings for the phone app, let’s have a quick look at that.
Speaker 4: Make Voxmate your default dialer. Order contacts by last name is disabled. Group contacts by first letter is disabled. Make Voxmate your default dialer.
Jonathan Mosen: Now we’ve wrapped round again to make Voxmate your default dialer. For those not familiar with Android paradigms, almost everything in Android is replaceable. And so if you want to make Voxmate your default dialer, you can absolutely do this and replace the phone app that comes stock with your device. So I’ll swipe left to get out of settings.
Speaker 5: Settings.
Jonathan Mosen: Now I’ll swipe left to get to the main menu.
Speaker 4: Phone.
Jonathan Mosen: Now I’ll swipe down to have a look at the next choice.
Speaker 4: Entertainment.
Jonathan Mosen: And that’s the entertainment section. So all I’m doing to navigate is up, down left and right. It’s a very straightforward user interface and that’s of course the whole beauty of this. Let’s swipe right.
Speaker 4: World news.
Jonathan Mosen: As a news junkie, I’m absolutely delighted with what is in here.
Speaker 5: Pick which publication you would like to read.
Speaker 4: Sky News.
Jonathan Mosen: Now there are a lot of publications in here, so I’ll swipe down to explore what’s available.
Speaker 4: Daily Mail, HuffPost UK, The Independent, The Sun, Daily Mirror, Metro online, Daily Star, New York Post, Mashable, CNET, Observer, Fast Company, Rolling Stone, CNBC, The Verge, Fox, Fox News, NBC News, news.com.au, The Indian Express, Slate, Forward, Reuters, Chicago Tribune, ABC, CBS News, The Hill, Politico, Breitbart.
Speaker 5: Settings.
Speaker 4: Sky News.
Jonathan Mosen: Now we’ve wrapped back around to Sky News. Sadly, no New Zealand publications yet, but a great list. And it’s very friendly to explore the items in each section. So I’ll swipe right.
Speaker 4: All articles.
Jonathan Mosen: You can browse all articles or you can choose a category by continuing to navigate the menu.
Speaker 4: UK, World, Politics.
Jonathan Mosen: All right, let’s open that
Speaker 4: Business Sec convinced UK won’t suffer gas shortage as treasury rules out support for firms.
Speaker 5: One of ten.
Jonathan Mosen: There are 10 articles in the section I can navigate down.
Speaker 4: Reasonable for PM to take holiday, says Cabinet Minister as Johnson enjoys Marbella break.
Speaker 5: Two of ten.
Jonathan Mosen: If I wanted to read that article, all I have to do is swipe right.
Speaker 4: Boris Johnson’s decision to take a holiday following the conservative party conference has been defended by senior Cabinet Minister. The Prime Minister is reported to have flown to Marbella in Southern Spain with his wife, Carrie Johnson and their son, Wilfred.
Jonathan Mosen: I can just stop this by swiping left.
Speaker 4: …reasonable for PM to take holiday says Cabinet Minister as Johnson enjoys Marbella break.
Speaker 5: Two of ten.
Jonathan Mosen: Now I’m back to the list of political stories. We’ll work our way backwards.
Speaker 4: Politics.
Jonathan Mosen: And now.
Speaker 4: Sky News.
Jonathan Mosen: We’re back into Sky News.
Speaker 4: World news.
Jonathan Mosen: And now we’re back into world news. So we’re in the entertainment menu. I’ll swipe down.
Speaker 4: Listen to audio books.
Jonathan Mosen: What’s in there? Let’s go and have a look.
Speaker 4: LibriVox audio books.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll swipe down.
Speaker 4: Calibre audio books, LibriVox audio books.
Jonathan Mosen: And now I’ll swipe left to get out of here.
Speaker 4: Listen to audio books.
Jonathan Mosen: And continue to explore the entertainment menu.
Speaker 4: Browse YouTube.
Jonathan Mosen: Let’s explore the Tube by swiping right.
Speaker 4: Search.
Jonathan Mosen: And there’s search.
Jonathan Mosen: Because I’m signed in with my Google account, I have access here to all my YouTube subscriptions.I’ll swipe right.
Speaker 4: Search.
Jonathan Mosen: On search. Yup, I am on search.
Speaker 5: You in the text editor, swipe up and down for editor options, double tap and hold to narrate text. Swipe down and right to open keyboard. To jump between words swipe left and right. Double tap to finish editing. Edit max 100 [inaudible [01:28:25]
Jonathan Mosen: As the Voxmate tutorial said, when we set this up, there are other tutorials that you can access. And there is one on using the edit functions. But if I swipe up here.
Speaker 5: Open keyboard, editor, settings, insert emoji, insert bracket, insert symbol, open keyboard, editor settings.
Jonathan Mosen: For now I’m going to double tap to exit the editor.
Speaker 4: Search.
Jonathan Mosen: And go back left.
Speaker 4: Browse YouTube.
Jonathan Mosen: And swipe down.
Speaker 4: Music on my phone.
Jonathan Mosen: At the moment I don’t have any music on my phone, but Voxmate does come with a built-in music player.
Speaker 4: Listen to podcasts.
Jonathan Mosen: And a podcast client too so let’s go right.
Speaker 4: My favorites, featured podcasts, top podcasts, top podcasts by category, search.
Jonathan Mosen: We’ll go left to get back to the entertainment menu.
Speaker 4: Listen to podcasts.
Jonathan Mosen: And go down.
Speaker 4: Tune into radio.
Jonathan Mosen: And there’s a radio tuner as well built right in here. I’ll swipe right to launch it.
Speaker 5: Pick which radio station you would like to listen to, browse local stations.
Jonathan Mosen: Because Voxmate has access to my location. It knows where I am, so when I swipe right, I will get New Zealand stations.
Speaker 4: 95 BFM.
Speaker 5: One of four.
Speaker 4: 96.9 FM.
Speaker 5: Two.
Speaker 4: Base FM NZ.
Speaker 5: Three.
Speaker 4: Chinese voice radio.
Speaker 5: Four.
Speaker 4: Coast.
Speaker 5: Five of 45.
Jonathan Mosen: So I actually think it’s just giving me New Zealand stations rather than going any more granular, but that’s okay. I’ll swipe left.
Speaker 5: Browse local stations.
Jonathan Mosen: And see what else is in this radio tuner.
Speaker 4: Search for stations, settings, browse local stations.
Jonathan Mosen: That’s what we have. So there are no categories at this stage of radio station or anything like that. I’ll go back to the entertainment menu by swiping left.
Speaker 4: Tune into radio.
Jonathan Mosen: And then swipe down.
Speaker 4: World news.
Jonathan Mosen: And we’re back at the top where it says world news. So that’s the entertainment options in Voxmate at the moment. I’ll swipe left to go back to the main menu.
Speaker 4: Entertainment.
Jonathan Mosen: And swipe down.
Speaker 4: Social.
Jonathan Mosen: Now we’ve got social.
Speaker 4: Audio forum.
Jonathan Mosen: Now this is actually very cool. And I won’t go in here at the moment, but this is a way for Voxmate users to communicate with one another by voice message. Voxmate is making every effort to make sure that this is a well run well moderated forum, where the dialogue is reasonable and everybody’s polite to one another. So it is worth checking out. I’ll swipe down.
Speaker 4: Telegram.
Jonathan Mosen: This gives you access to telegram, which is a popular encrypted messaging platform. It also does voice messaging as well if I go in here.
Speaker 4: Telegram plugin is currently disabled. Swipe right to enable.
Speaker 5: Swipe right to confirm.
Speaker 4: I’ll swipe right.
Speaker 5: [inaudible [01:31:06] to enter your full international phone number, starting with your country code.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m not going to do that just now because I’m not on telegram at this point but this is well-integrated in Voxmate. So we’ll get out of here and I’m back on the social menu right now. The next option.
Speaker 4: Reddit.
Jonathan Mosen: Is Reddit. Now this isn’t working yet it seems if I go right to invoke Reddit.
Speaker 4: An updated this Voxmate app is coming soon.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m looking forward to that because I do use Reddit a lot and I’m using the dystopia Reddit client on my iPhone right now. But to have a fully accessible Reddit option on Android is going to be really worthwhile. And I’m looking forward to seeing this working.
Speaker 4: Audio forum.
Jonathan Mosen: Now we’re back to audio forums. So those are the social options at the moment. Let’s go back to the main menu. I’ll swipe left.
Speaker 4: Social.
Jonathan Mosen: Back to social. So I’ll swipe down.
Speaker 4: Games.
Jonathan Mosen: And we have games. Let’s take a quick look at what’s in here. I’ll swipe right to go to the games menu.
Speaker 4: Game club, play [inaudible [01:32:04] early access, play Sodoku, play Mapdoku, play Quiz, play Blackjack, game club.
Speaker 5: Play games with people online.
Jonathan Mosen: Now that’s a useful hint. The game club is to play games with people online. I haven’t played too many of these, but I have played the blackjack one cause it’s pretty quick and easy to play and it works really well. Let’s go back to the main menu.
Speaker 4: Games.
Jonathan Mosen: And go down.
Speaker 4: Resources.
Jonathan Mosen: And we have a section here called resources. Let’s open it.
Speaker 4: The Knowledge Village.
Jonathan Mosen: And let’s open that. So we’ll go right. One more time to the Knowledge Village.
Speaker 5: COVID 19.
Speaker 4: The COVID 19 pandemic is impacting lives across the globe. Our role is to support those who may be less resilient to a crisis like this. So we have created some specific content that is designed to help blind and visually impaired people during this challenging time.
Jonathan Mosen: That’s handy. We’ll go down.
Speaker 5: Apps.
Speaker 4: Whether you want to read your posts, navigate independently access books, or do your shopping. There are accessible apps out there that will enable you to do all this and more.
Jonathan Mosen: Let’s go in and take a look at this because a repository of accessible apps for Android is certainly welcome.
Speaker 5: Sullivan+ a visual aid app video.
Speaker 4: In this video, Mark shows a Sullivan+, a new app from south Korean firm TUAT. Sullivan+ features a range of different aids for those with visual impairments, ranging from color detection to text recognition and PDF reading.
Jonathan Mosen: Okay, down.
Speaker 5: Apple magnifier, an impressive update. Video.
Speaker 4: Recently we released a video about Apple’s accessibility options, but in particular, the magnifier. Apple has since added a very impressive update to an on iPhone 12 Pro and beyond.
Jonathan Mosen: Okay. Down again.
Speaker 5: Good night. Remote visual rehabilitation for children video.
Speaker 4: His video, Mark demonstrates an app called “Can I.” This app is used to assist the diagnosis of neonatal children who may be experiencing sight loss.
Speaker 5: Envision glasses, AI for your high blog.
Speaker 4: Mark from our digital team recently tested the Envision glasses to find out for himself how well they worked.
Jonathan Mosen: As you can hear, there are some Apple resources in here as well, but we’ll go left for now back to the previous menu.
Speaker 5: Apps.
Speaker 4: Whether you want to read your post, navigate independently, access books or do your shopping, there are accessible apps out there that will enable you to do all this and more.
Jonathan Mosen: And here in the resources section I’ll swipe down.
Speaker 5: Technology.
Speaker 4: Technology is a game-changer for people with sight loss and with the right training, can restore independence. Check out some of our top picks of the best accessibility technology out there.
Jonathan Mosen: And we’ll swipe down.
Speaker 5: Eye conditions.
Speaker 4: There are a huge range of eye conditions that cause sight loss. Here, we’ve covered some of the most common eye conditions, their causes and symptoms.
Jonathan Mosen: I think these are UK resources and there’s quite an extensive list. I won’t go through them all, but the resources category actually has grown since I’ve had the app. So I’ll go back.
Speaker 4: The Knowledge Village
Jonathan Mosen: And now we’ll go back down
Speaker 4: Coronavirus pandemic
Jonathan Mosen: And that’s what we have in the resources section. Next in the main menu.
Speaker 4: Utilities.
Jonathan Mosen: We’ve got utilities and under that.
Speaker 4: Make notes, what’s nearby, scan text.
Jonathan Mosen: So you do get an awful lot for your subscription. Let’s go into scan text.
Speaker 4: New scan.
Jonathan Mosen: And we can do a new scan.
Speaker 4: My scans.
Jonathan Mosen: And.
Speaker 4: Help.
Jonathan Mosen: Listen to help. So let’s do that.
Speaker 5: The scanner uses your built-in camera to scan printed text. When scanning books or documents, you can place the phone on the document, align it and lift about half a meter up. When scanning printed text on household goods, try holding it at arms’ length in front of the camera. It’s important to align the camera upright with the text. If you are getting bad results, try rotating the camera.
Jonathan Mosen: Now I’m in my studio at the moment. So we won’t do too much demoing of the scan text feature, but it does work. It does work quite well.
Speaker 4: Help. Scan text.
Jonathan Mosen: And
Speaker 4: Utilities.
Jonathan Mosen: We’re back to utilities.
Speaker 4: Early access feedback.
Jonathan Mosen: And then we can provide feedback.
Speaker 4: Settings.
Jonathan Mosen: Let’s take a quick look at what’s in settings.
Speaker 4: Manage subscription. Preferences.
Jonathan Mosen: If we go into preferences,
Speaker 4: Text to speech.
Jonathan Mosen: We can change text to speech, including the speed and the particular voices that you are using in Voxmate. And as you can hear, there’s a hint voice, which is set to female, for me anyway. And then the main voice.
Speaker 4: Touch keyboard is U.S. QWERTY keyboard, simple mode. Your device is Flagship. Measurement unit preference is metric. Talk back compatibility mode is disabled. Tap and hold to pause gesture is disabled. Haptic feedback is enabled. Visuals, text-to-speech.
Jonathan Mosen: And now we’ve wrapped around to text-to-speech. There are a couple of things that I will mention here. One is that if you need any help at any time, you can draw a clockwise gesture with one finger. If I want to get to the main menu from anywhere, because as we’ve seen, we can go several layers deep in here. If I go into entertainment and then choose a provider and then a category, and then a news story, it can get a bit tedious to flick left all the time. So for more advanced users who want to go straight out to the main menu, just perform a counterclockwise gesture with one finger.
Speaker 5: Voxmate.
Speaker 4: Phone.
Jonathan Mosen: Now we’re back to the main menu. Also, if I flick up from here,
Speaker 5: It’s now nine hours, 26 minutes and 31 seconds. There are no new messages. Swipe right for details, messages and weather.
Jonathan Mosen: This is really quite cool. So I will swipe right.
Speaker 4: Today is October 11th. Your battery is at 49%. The temperature outside is 13 degrees Celsius. Swipe right for more details.
Jonathan Mosen: All right, I’ll swipe right.
Speaker 4: Few clouds, 4.8 kilometers per hour southeastern winds. Gusts up to 14 kilometers per hour, 76% relative humidity, 1006 Hectopascals atmospheric pressure, 20% relative cloud cover. The sunrise was two hours and 48 minutes ago at [6:38] AM. The sun will set in 10 hours and nine minutes at [7:36] PM.
Jonathan Mosen: Now I will perform my counterclockwise gesture to get back to the main menu.
Speaker 4: The temperature outside is 13 degrees.
Jonathan Mosen: Ah, won’t work.
Speaker 4: Swipe.
Speaker 5: Voxmate.
Speaker 4: Phone.
Jonathan Mosen: There we go. It takes me a bit to do that counterclockwise gesture, but I do get there in the end. And there is another thing I want to show you too. And that is that you can dictate into search edit fields. So let’s go down.
Speaker 4: Entertainment.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll swipe right.
Speaker 4: World news.
Jonathan Mosen: And now I’m going to swipe up.
Speaker 4: Tune into radio, listen to podcasts, music on my phone, browse YouTube
Jonathan Mosen: And we’ll go into browse YouTube.
Speaker 4: Search.
Jonathan Mosen: There’s search.
Speaker 5: You’re in the text editor. Swipe up and down for editor options, double tap and hold to narrate text, swipe down and right to open keyboard. To jump between words, swipe left and right. Double tap to finish editing.
Jonathan Mosen: If I double tap and hold-
Speaker 5: Max one hundred hours.
Jonathan Mosen: Don’t shut me down
Speaker 5: Added. Don’t shut me down.
Jonathan Mosen: Down. Great song, man. A double tap
Speaker 4: ABBA. “Don’t Shut Me Down.” Lyric video.
Speaker 5: From ABBA.
Jonathan Mosen: And there it is. So it’s easy to dictate into any edit field in Voxmate with a double tap and hold. Even though I may not be the target demographic for Voxmate, I really am enjoying using this because the news section is just so easy to browse. It’s a friendly environment to work in, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with Reddit when I’ve been playing with Voxmate. It’s interesting because Bonnie said, “Can I have this on my iPhone?” So I think this will appeal to a lot of people who just enjoy an all-in-one app with this information that is fully accessible and self-voicing. So that’s Voxmate, it’s available in the Google Play store.
Speaker 7: Be the first to know what’s coming in the next episode of “Mosen At Large.” Opt into the Mosen media list and receive a brief email on what’s coming so you can get your contribution in ahead of the show. You can stop receiving emails anytime. To join, send a blank email to email@example.com, That’s media-subscribe at M-O-S-E-N dot org. Stay in the know with Mosen At Large.
Jonathan Mosen: Marisa has another email. She says, “Hi Jonathan. I have been legally blind since birth due to retinopathy of prematurity. As I mentioned prior, I have an intellectual disability. I think it’s time I take this a bit more seriously given my age. I have been thinking about attending an independent training center. I want to get your opinion on which I should consider. I am a resident of Los Angeles, California. I do know some Braille with an uppercase B, cooking, very basic things. Scrambled eggs, bacon, grilled cheese.” Yum. Dinner at your house, Marisa. “I would want to increase my cooking abilities. Assistive technology. I’m no expert. I do know ZoomText, Jaws, Fusion, Kurzweil and iPad/iphone grocery shopping independently would be where I would want more training. Cane training is another area I would benefit from. I have asked various people I know about attending the Hatlen Center in Northern California.
Students live in their own apartments, receive training there. I am considering this one because it’s still in California. Some other centers you were living in dorms, you were learning the skills, but it’s all pre-planned. You are not actually putting into practice what you’ve learned, as if you were living in an apartment. Or I am wondering if I should attend an NFB training center. They do everything under sleep shade. I’m apprehensive because I have never done anything of that nature. I do understand the purpose of the training. I have asked various people about NFB centers. They say it’s hard for people who are low vision or have some usable vision. They have had a hard time to adjust to the sleep shades. That since vision is a part of the brain, you cannot just turn it off. A former counselor I had who shall remain anonymous, said that there hadn’t been any benefit to send partials or low vision persons to the NFB training centers.
That the important thing for the time being is to receive training with the usable vision the person has at the moment. Then if the person’s visual circumstances were to change, they could receive additional blindness training. Back to my situation. Though my condition has been stable, one of the biggest issues that can happen with ROP is risk of retinal detachment. So let’s play devil’s advocate. Let’s say I go to develop one. If I had gone to the NFB training center, I would have already received training and be more prepared.”
Thank you for your inquiry Marisa. I’m definitely not qualified to comment on the training center scene in the United States. I visited a few of them, including Hatlen, but only as a visitor. So I don’t know what their programs are like to be trained in. If anyone has any thoughts on this, then please be in touch and share experiences.
A request from Carrie Francis in Canada. She says, “I was wondering if you could review something for me or ask one of the ‘Mosen At Large’ listeners to review this game. I just learned today that Falling Squirrel, an indie company from Niagara Falls, Ontario, in conjunction with the CNIB, developed ‘The Veil,’ a game for the blind/visually impaired. I had to take a look at it myself, but it is done in 3d sound, which makes this game unplayable for me since my total deafness prevents me from tracking sound. Anyway, I’m pasting an article about it below. If you could review the game and let me know what you think, this would be really cool. I wish that game developers would try and include deaf, blind players in their programs. This would definitely be one game which I might be interested in playing.”
Well, thank you, Carrie. I haven’t yet had a chance to have a look at this game. I’m not a huge gamer, not because I’m boring and don’t like games. It’s just that there are time constraints really. So I don’t get to play too many, but we’ll throw it out there. So I don’t hold this up any longer. If you have played “The Veil” and you can tell us how you like it, you might even like to do a review of it, if you’ve got the equipment to do a good quality review. But if not, just let me know what you think of the game. Let Carrie know what you think of the game. firstname.lastname@example.org is my email address. Attach an audio file or a Dropbox link or something. You know, if you’ve got a big file there with a review, or you can just write your email down. The listener line number is in the United States. That’s 86460 Mosen, 8646066736.
To the Kingdom of U, we go. That’s where Matthew Horspool is. And he says, “Hi, Jonathan, I don’t have my Brailliant to hand, but I don’t think you misread the Moon table. However, I do think it was included by accident. Moon uses shapes, not dissimilar to print letters, and I believe it also has some basic contractions. The Moon table in Duxbury, I believe was designed to work in conjunction with a Moon font. Text in the Moon font can be printed onto swell paper.” What a swell idea! “And made tactile using a heat fuser, such as pictures in a flash PIAF, pronounced ‘piaf,’ or the Zyfuse from Zychem. You can also generate Moon symbols on Braille with a lower case ‘B’ embosses with tactile graphics capabilities. And I think Duxbury might support this approach as well.”
Now I just noticed that Matthew is capitalizing Moon, but not Braille. My word, my word. “The Moon table,” he continues, “would have never been designed for use with standard Braille cells though. So I doubt it will be of any use on a Braille display. Re-recurring appointments not using the correct date, it sounds like the contributor may be using the monthly recurring option, which will make the appointment recur on the same date each month. For a recurrence on the third Wednesday, use the custom repeat option, which will then reveal further settings to achieve the desired recurrence.” Thank you, Matthew. That is good intel. That is good intel. George McLocklin is writing in. He’s also in a different part of the Kingdom of U. And he says, “Hello, Jonathan. First of all, I wanted to say, thank you for the podcast. I listen most weeks and find it very informative.
I have been meaning to contribute on a whole host of topics, but for now I thought I would send an email in, on moon following a listener contribution on the show. Like you, I am a Braille with an uppercase B reader, and have virtually no experience of Moon other than seeing a few books in the format. However, I happened to be on RNIB Scotland’s website yesterday and came across a project called “Seeing Our History,” which the charity completed in 2015. The project explores the lives of blind people in Scotland around a hundred years ago through a series of podcasts and a book. It is interesting to note that the research on the project was taken from the register of the outdoor blind. The term outdoor blind was used because it referred to visually-impaired people living in the wider community, as opposed to those living in the institutions or asylums, as they were known at the time.
This made me sad, but thank goodness we have come a long way. One of the podcasts, education and raised type, and the study of Bella Wood gives an explanation of Moon type as being embossed, simplified letters with the line being read left to right and then back the way, right to left. The section related to the podcast in the companion book, details that the aim of William Moon was that blind people should be able to access the Bible. And that Moon was easier to learn by those losing their sight in later life. I don’t know what the situation was in other countries at the time, but the book also gives statistics showing that in 1886 Moon was by far the dominant system of reading in Scotland when compared to Braille. I will link to the project below. Unfortunately I think that the podcasts are only accessible from the project web page and aren’t in any of the directories. Ah, well, that makes them audio files and not podcasts then.
I have only listened to that one episode so far. However, I intend to listen to more of them. The “Seeing Our History” project can be found here, www.rnib.org.uk/scotland/seeing-our-history. That’s rnib.org.uk/scotland/seeing-our-history.”
Thank you, George. I’m really looking forward to digging into this. I love the blindness history thing. As I keep saying, it’s so important that we understand where we’ve come from, the hard fought battles we’ve won, the technologies that tried and didn’t work, or that put us on a particular path to where we are today. Fascinating, riveting stuff. And I look forward to losing myself in all of this.
Speaker 7: Mosen At Large Podcast.
Jonathan Mosen: Matthew Whitaker is back on the email and says, “Hello, Jonathan and listeners. First of all, I just wanted to say thank you so much for including my email response on Mosen At Large in episode 144. Really means a lot.” Well, thanks for sending it in, Matthew.
He says, “I hope the person who was asking about a good calendar app has found a solution. Here’s a question regarding my Sony WH1000 XM4 Bluetooth headphones. When I receive a phone call, FaceTime call, et cetera, I can’t hear voiceover or the ring tone. On my XM2s, I was able to hear everything fine. This is annoying because I don’t know who was trying to contact me until I answer the call. Any help with this issue would be great. Thank you so much to all of you and keep up the amazing work on this awesome podcast.”
Well, thank you, Matthew. It’s nice to have a happy customer, eh? Nice to have a happy one. Well, let’s see. The only thing that I can think of to suggest, is that if you go into your Bluetooth options on your iPhone and you find your headphones and you double tap the “more info” button, you can now choose the kind of profile that you want to assign to the headphones. I don’t know whether it will help, but it’s possible that if you change the profile, just be really careful you make a note of what the default profile is, in case it makes things worse and you need to change it back, but you might try another profile and see if that fixes the problem. That’s just guesswork on my part. If you have these specific headphones, you’ve seen this issue that Matthew’s talking about, and you’ve fixed it, then share your wisdom with us. I know that lots of people would be grateful.
Alison Fallon: Hi, Jonathan. This is Alison Fallon in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I’ve really enjoyed your podcast. I don’t always agree with you, but I’ve always enjoyed them and always learned something. I would love to see you do an interview on the BlindShell Classic2. I believe it’s coming out in September and I suspect you can probably get a prototype or something. I’d like to get it, but I’d like to know more about it. So if you can do an interview, that would be wonderful.
Jonathan Mosen: Allison, it’s always good to hear from you because you put the song “24 Hours from Tulsa” in my head. Every time you call in. And it’s nice to hear your voice. And it’s particularly good to hear from you given that you don’t agree with everything I say. I think the world could do with a lot more of that, where we respect people with differing opinions and hear what they have to say, still disagree with them, but do it respectfully and realize that you can disagree with someone and that someone can still be a good person. So thank you for all of that. Right after I got this voicemail towards the end of August, I did reach out to the BlindShell people and told them about the podcast and that I would love first to do an interview with them if they want to talk about the new features of any products that they’re working on, or indeed any products they have on the market now, and that I’d be delighted also to do a demo, a full-length Mosen At Large deep dive into the phone.
Now at this stage, I haven’t heard back from them yet. So if anybody does have any contacts in the BlindShell world, and they think they might be able to encourage them to set up, you know, I use the info email address. I presume they do check that, but I’d love to do this review or interview regarding the BlindShell Classic product. Some people just don’t get on well with touch screens, for others it’s just more functionality than they need. And products like the BlindShell classic fills that void. Tomaso is writing in. And he says, “I have been listening to your podcast for more than a year now and find it a place where I, as a blind person can find absolutely relatable content. One particular interview struck me and I wanted to drop you a line about it, hoping to spark an interesting and fruitful discussion.
I’m referring to Shermeen Khan’s article and interview. She constantly references a dualism, a contradiction between blind and sighted culture, blind world versus sighted world. Even though I find it absolutely true that there are big differences in the way we behave, sense of humor, things we can relate to and so on, I believe this division could end up being quite damaging. You correctly stated many people write to you saying I live in the sighted world and am proud/superior/whatever. This is certainly bad, in my opinion. And such a statement is hardly enough to make you any superior to anyone else. But the article in my opinion, tends to lean dangerously towards the other extreme. That is, I live in the blind world. I think that to really be happy and fulfilled as a human being, one needs to elevate themselves to a higher level than these separate culture ideologies.
I would tell you a lie if I said, I mainly hang around with blind people, because the opposite is in fact true. However, I do have close blind friends whom I hang out with and am particularly happy around, but, and this is a big “but,” them being blind is not the reason why I hang out with them. We certainly do have stuff in common because we are blind, but I’d never dream of that becoming one of the main criteria for choosing one person over another. An example, when we are done talking about blindness issues and technology, with many people, I have little else to talk about. The same of course is true for a sighted person. Your being sighted certainly can help, but it must not be a deciding factor in my willingness or lack thereof to get to know you. As you correctly state, the world should not be sighted.
It should be inclusive and accessible, but for that same reason, the world should not be blind. It should be inclusive and accessible. I know I may sound harsh here, but stances such as the one expressed in the article favor this blind/sighted separate world dichotomy instead of trying to bridge the gap.”
Thank you very much for that, Tomaso. I agree with your fundamental point that just because you’re blind, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to get on well with all other blind people. We know that’s certainly not true from our own communities. So yes, I suppose it’s just about who we feel comfortable around. I don’t think Shermeen was intending to say that blind people shouldn’t or couldn’t have great relationships with sighted people. I think she actually went out of her way to make that point. I think she’s saying that sometimes blindness just gives you a connection that is sometimes hard to achieve with a sighted person because of common experiences and interests.
But I think your point is very well made and I’m not sure that she would disagree with it either.
As some parts of the world start to reopen and think about returning to work, hybrid meetings are the new buzzword companies like Microsoft with their teams platform and Zoom. The conferencing people are talking about how we’ll never go back to everybody being in the office and we should prepare for a hybrid future. And I will always choose an online meeting over an in-person one, if I have the choice to make. It’s just far more accessible, less stressful for me as a blind person with a hearing impairment. So every cloud has a silver lining and I for one have found the abundance of online meetings, an incredibly positive thing during this pandemic period. And I do worry a little. I see there are others talking online about this subject too, that some of the inclusive accessible benefits that we’ve gained during the pandemic may be lost if we are not careful.
So I think we just have to be mindful of this. With that preface, here is an email from Debee Armstrong who says “Our local ACB chapter is starting to have in-person meetings, but some people still want to meet on Zoom. I need an inexpensive setup, which is easy to connect via USB to a PC or Mac that lets Zoom users integrate in to an in-person meeting. I know you’ve spoken about mixers and audio interfaces on your podcast, but my needs are slightly different. I’m not a podcaster or an audio production professional. I want something that any reasonable computer-savvy user can connect and use during the meeting, then disconnect and pack away until the next meeting. I asked on mailing lists and got lots of recommendations for professional equipment, but I want this interface to be simple enough that more than one member of our group can easily learn to connect.
At the last meeting, I just took a quality USB mic and set it near the PA system. When a member on Zoom wished to speak, I acknowledged his raised hand using my Braille with an upper case B display, and then placed a wireless mic near my computer’s speaker. It worked fairly well, but I was using my PC and knew how to adjust everything so it sounded okay. I don’t want to be the sole person capable of integrating Zoomers into our in-person meetings.” Okay, Zoomer, thank you, Debee, for that inquiry. You are going to see a lot of products in this space popping up because of this whole hybrid concept that I talked about and there is one on the market already that seems very nice. And this is made by logitech. So it’s a reputable brand and it’s called the logidoc. I believe they are two words, L-O-G-I and then the word doc, and this is a good quality speaker with a bunch of USB ports and microphones of various types so that you can put it in the middle of a table.
And when you talk, your Zoom callers will hear you. And when they talk, hopefully the amplification will be sufficient that the rest of the meeting will hear. Now that is designed, I think more for a meeting where people might be around a table and you would have this logidoc in the middle of the table, if you want to connect it to an existing system. So you are in an ACB meeting and it sounds like you’ve got a PA set up where people perhaps are speaking into the microphone. I don’t know if the logidoc will let you run a cable, say from the output of that system to its input, which would be ideal if they would let you do that. But I don’t know if that’s the case. So have a look at the specs for the logidoc. It may or may not be what you’re after. If anybody has a relatively simple plug-and-play solution so that anybody setting up a meeting could do this.
Then do let us know email@example.com 86460 Mosen is the number in the U.S. 8-6-4-6-0-6-6-7-3-6. I love to hear from you. So if you have any comments you want to contribute to the show, drop me an email written down or with an audio attachment, to Jonathan J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N at mushroomfm.com. If you’d rather call in, use the listener line number in the United States, 8-6-4-6-0-6-6-7-3-6