First day with the iPhone and Voiceover

I’m very lucky to have gotten help from family for that ridiculous deposit I had to pay to start a contract with Verizon. The nice thing is that after a year of on time payments, we’ll get that back with interest, so I’m just gonna set up automatic payments. Now that that ugliness has passed, I can get to the awesomeness that is iPhone.

My other phone was completely on it’s last legs, dying constantly and making it so I was uncomfortable going out. For those interested, I had the T-Mobile Dash, basically a Blackberry, with Mobile Speak installed. Sure, tactile buttons were nice, but the screen reader was quite garbled, and unless you were on a home key or the D key with the dot, you had to really be certain which button you were hitting. I basically kept one button poised on delete since I didn’t know what button I was pressing for sure, until I selected it.

I called Verizon Tuesday morning and got my iPhone via FedEx yesterday. I was surprised when the driver showed up at 10:30. Yay for not waiting all day! On a side note, she asked me a very odd question. After she helped me sign that tablet thing she asked,” so do you just stay home all day?”

I had been giving myself pep talks about the iPhone. I knew there was going to be a learning curve so I just kept telling myself to take it slow, be patient, don’t throw it.

I set the box gingerly on the coffee table and opened it up. When I took out the slim, sleek, square device, I was surprised at how sturdy it felt. It’s also got a heft to it I wasn’t expecting.

I had been talking to Georgie that morning and she said there were two volume buttons on the upper left side as well as a switch to turn off volume. She described the home button on the bottom middle of the phone and also a slider on the touch screen near that button that you have to slide to unlock the phone. I was glad she told me about these things.

I found the USB cable and plugged the iPhone into the Macbook. iTunes had been open, waiting.

The sales associate told me I would just plug in the phone and iTunes would finish the deal. Sure enough, there was a message from Verizon that popped up on iTunes solidifying the contract and such. After all that I was able to go into the iPhone through iTunes and turn on Voiceover by selecting the general tab and scrolling down to Universal Access, I believe it’s called.

As soon as the checkbox was checked I heard a female voice come from the phone, saying voiceover was on. I was ready to go. Incredible.

I left it plugged in to the computer since the battery hadn’t come fully charged. I began dragging my finger around the screen, listening as the voice told me what I encountered. At the top left is my signal strength and then as I moved right I heard the time and charge level. As I moved down there were icons like mail, messages, phone, Safari, iTunes, iPod, etc etc.

You activate nothing while you’re doing this. If you stop after you hear messages, the voice says, “messages. Double tap to open.”

Oh and that slider Georgie told me about? The voice says “slide or double tap to unlock.” Very easy.

Initially I was amazed as I dragged around exploring. Once you select something like messages, basically all that means is you stop dragging when you hear what you want, the focus stays there. You double tap anywhere on the screen to open. You don’t have to double tap on the icon itself, which is nice. Can you imagine trying to aim a double tap when you can’t see?

All my contacts were synced from the address book in the Macbook, so everyone was already there. I was able to open up a contact by double tapping anywhere on the screen when I heard their name.

Unfortunately there was one step the sales rep hadn’t mentioned. The phone was on and stuff, but not hooked into Verizon’s network. I tried calling it from the home phone and got a recording that the number had been disconnected. So they cancelled the T-Mobile account and imported my number, but the iPhone wasn’t talking to the network.

I didn’t know how long that switch took so I kept playing. I decided to see if I could dial into voicemail and when I tried, it asked me to enter the phone number. Haha! I thought, it’s gonna take me five minutes to find the keypad so I started saying to Silicone Sally that I needed customer service. That Sally isn’t as smart as T-Mobile’s Sally, but she finally got what my frantic words meant and I got a representative.

Turns out I had to activate the phone. She gave me instructions and I wrote them in a text document on the laptop and began. I double tapped the phone icon which brings up your keypad. It tells you you’re in edit mode so you know you have a keypad or keyboard.

I had to enter star and then three numbers. It was tedious and new, but fairly simple. I managed to hit send. Then I had to press one. Aaah ok drag around, hear one, double tap. Then it had me enter the mobile number. I wasn’t fast enough. Sally kept saying invalid invalid and hung up.

deep breath. You can do this. I must mention it’s harder to work a touch screen for the first time in your life when your hands are shaking because you’re feeling rushed.

I got it on the third time, even when she asked for the last four of my social. Finally it was done and I could now make and receive calls and text messages.

I managed to send B a text that read, “iPhone text”. That took about five minutes hahaha!

I practiced answering a call by calling the iPhone from the home phone. The answer button is on the bottom of the screen and while the call is coming in, you can still drag and wait to hear “send”, then double tap. The phone announces who is calling.

Gamma called shortly thereafter and I was able to answer the call.

I somehow managed to call B when I was trying to reply to his text message and it took me awhile to figure out how to end the call. That was a long voice message haha!

There was never a moment of oh my God I can’t do this, no moments of sheer frustration and panic, nothing. I just played and explored.

I opened up youtube and managed to do a search. You just drag until you find the search field and then double tap. The phone tells you you’re in edit mode and you find your keyboard. I’m a fast typer on the laptop so I know the layout of a keyboard. This helps as you’re dragging to find keys. I would find the key and double tap. It was tedious. I managed to search for Emeel Salem and clicked the Rays Talent Show link that popped up. I played the video. It was awesome! Oh, and you can actually control youtube videos on the iPhone, unlike with the Macbook where I can’t pause or anything. You can on the iPhone. Sweet!

I spent the afternoon just playing. Of course I had to do the most important thing of all – assign ringtones. I can even give people custom text tones. Now I won’t ignore B when I’ve got baseball texts coming in.

I was able to answer the call when B called and end it this time. Hahaha!

Pretty much all I knew about how to work the iPhone was from this page. I had checked it out briefly a few times but didn’t want to lust after the iPhone too much until I was in a position to have one.

A few hours after I had it, I listened to the video there. It showed me a much better way to type. Using both hands, drag a thumb around until you hear the key you want. Leave your thumb there and tap anywhere with the other thumb. Sooooo much faster.

The voice says the letter with a higher pitch so you know you’ve selected it. When entering secure text in a password field, it won’t repeat the letter, playing a sound instead, and only enters bullets. Someone could still hear what you’re entering unless you’re really fast, so if you’re in public, use your headphones if you’re worried.

The phone came with earbuds that are also a headset so you can talk into them on a call. They feel kinda flimsy. I hate ear buds because they tangle so I’ll probably sync my Bluetooth at some point for calls.

I have yet to put music on the phone but that’ll be soon.

Oh one thing I really like is the fact that the screen locks pretty quick after it’s idle. I thought that would drive me crazy having to unlock it but it’s fast and when it’s locked, nothing is going to happen when you pick up the phone. Also, when it’s locked and you hit the home key, she says the time. Nice and easy way to check the time in the mornings.

I haven’t figured out how to adjust volume and rate of Voiceover, but it’s actually good where it is. The voice is much easier to understand than Mobile Speak was.

Since I’m already familiar with iTunes and how to control iPods through it and such, it’s nice and easy for me to do anything to the iPhone like adding apps and stuff. For someone completely new to all of it, it might be a little challenging, but there’s always help online.

Especially with Twitter. You get answers fast. Amanda helped me find the Twitter app she likes and another friend helped me figure out the three fingered swipe to page down in my contacts list or on the ringtone page and such.

There’s a lot more left to learn, but I had the basics down by the end of the day.

I love it so much. If it asked me to marry it, I would!

I had seen an iPhone for like five minutes back when I could see. I knew nothing about it really until I had it in my hands. Remembering where things are is key and once you’ve got that down, you’re gold. You can also move icons on your home screen so things are positioned where you like them. That’s fun, to be able to drag and drop again.

Ok I think that’s it for things to touch on. If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment. Also, if you know of any good resources for really getting in depth with the iPhone and Voiceover, let me know. I learn best when I have a web page or a blog with hints and such. Apple’s site is great, but I’d like some more in depth stuff.

Oh wait, the compass. Have to mention the compass briefly. It’s already on the phone and it’s amazing! I use a braille compass for orientation so I really like this feature. Ok, that’s it. REally.

6 Comments

Filed under apple Inc, assistive technologies, cool product, emeel salem, Gamma, iPhone, iTunes, proud geek, screen reader, Silicone Sally, twitter me this, Voiceover, wow, youtube

6 Responses to First day with the iPhone and Voiceover

  1. Congrats.
    Just a few tips you can try when, or if you are ready.
    First, Touch typing. This will allow you to type without having to always double tap every letter. To insert the letter, just hold on the letter of choice for a fraction of a second, then lift the finger off. I mention “When you might be ready” because this method of typing could be harder than easier for a new user, not sure. I’ve been using the iPhone way to long. lol
    To switch between touch typing and standard, when you have the keyboard up, or Voiceover says “editing” after double tapping on a text field, do a roter jesture. 2 fingers, kind of like your turning a make believe nob on the screen. You Should here VO say Words, ETC. What you want is “Typing Mode”, when you here this, just flick up or down to switch between the 2.

    Second, In your contacts, or your iPod (maybe in some other apps), a fast way to navigate through the list is by alphabetical order.
    Simply touch the very right edge of the iPhone, and you should here something about a table row, blah.
    Then just do a flick up or down to move. Once your on the letter you were wanting, just touch the screen, I usually ame for the middle.

    Hopefully these small suggestions might make things more productive and fun.

  2. Ro

    Hey Taylor and thanks! Had no idea about this stuff. I heard the table thing but didn’t know what it was. I’ll definitely have to check out the typing trick when I’ve gotten a little more used to it. You’re right about if/when I’m ready haha!

    I learned a lot from your podcast the other day. Do you guys have any episodes with the iPhone?

  3. No, the iPhone is pretty straight forward once you get a handfull (and I mean handfull) lol of jestures down.

    I think we might of demmoed an app or 2, a money reader comes to mind, but not an actual “How to navigate, ETC” podcast.
    I guess I might try a series if it is needed…

    If you are familiare with blind cool tech, I think there are some podcasts on the iPhone up there, though I can’t say how good the content is.

    The main thing is to not get frustrated or stressed out, and just explore, which is your atitude already.
    I think you’ll have it in no time, especially with some of your friends helping you.

  4. Ro

    Yeah that’s how I always have learned anything tech, just tackle it and play. I find ways of doing things though, and like a year later find a shortcut because someone wrote about it and I’m like, oh. I was doing it a totally back ass door way haha! It’s so fun getting to learn this phone. It’s a million times better than Mobile Speak, that’s for sure.

  5. Hey, trying this for the 13944386402 time and lets see if itworks. Feel free to ask me questions on twitter and I’ll answer to the best of my ability, but also Taylor is a good resource…follow him @taylor9209 on twitter… He has had an iPhone like 4 or 5 months longer than I have. He also spends more time on his phone than I do. 🙂 Hope this works and itshelpful.

  6. Ro

    Trying the touch typing now. Definitely much faster. I’m amazed how fast I’m typing on this thing, even before touch typing. I thought it would be a lot harder.

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