SMS Pop Up App Review

I’ll be the first to admit, I am NOT the master of the text message. Although I send and receive them daily, send me more than about two in a row, and your phone will be ringing with me on the other end.

And no matter how much screen real estate you have, it always seems that manufacturers pick the smallest possible fonts to use in the SMS app. This is fine for the eagle eyed Twentysomethings, but if you’re on the downhill side of the big 4-0, sometimes you need just a little more help.

 

Enter SMS Pop Up, an app that gives you a nice, big popup window that appears on your screen every time you have an incoming message. Screenshot of SMS Pop Up

The text is large, clear, and displays as white on a solid black background, which makes it much easier to read. If you need extra help, a quick trip to the setup menu lets you custom-configure the large buttons at the bottom of the window. One of the choices is Text-To-Speech, which will read the incoming message to you when you press the button.

The app is great for anyone who has a hard time seeing the text in a standard Android SMS menu, and is free in the Android Market (or Google Play, as it’s called now).

Pros:Easy to set up and use, very stable, easily customizable, good for middle-aged to “senior” users, free.

Cons: Replies are typed in standard, hard-to-read Android SMS default program.

Rating: 4.75

 

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Ice Cream Sandwich Acessibility

After waiting and hoping that Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) would be a major step forward in accessibility for Android users with vision problems, I can report that Google has made a world of useful additions and changes, but there is still work to be done.

 

The new font developed just for Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) is very readable and is a welcome addition to the Android platform for those users who have difficuly seeing the screen.There are also provisions for changing the font size, which is a great improvement, although I have to take the Android team to task- folks, people have been begging for this in Android forums since Android 2.2 (Froyo)–what took so long?

 

Still, it’s a good feature and nice to have, although making the “Hugh” type a little bigger would have been nice. Also, the largest font in the Gmail app needs to be at least 1.5X larger to accomodate people with Macular Degeneration.

There are also several other useful features, such as Explore by Touch, a haptic feedback mode with a built-in voice navagator for the totally blind, that are welcome additions fo the OSGalaxy Nexus, the first ICS phone

The ICS keyboard is also a winner. Nice black keys, good feel, and easy to see and use. Although I’ve loaded 6 other keyboards from the Market, I always come back to the original.

The shining star of ICS for the visually impaired, however, is Voice Actions.Everywhere you see a keyboard in ICS, you’ll also see a little microphone on one of the botom keys. Hit this button, anrd you’ll see a larger mic take over the screen. Speak your text, and you’ll see a remarkably accurate rendition of whatever you just said appear on the screen. It’s not perfect- deep voices, accents and background noise can still trip it up- but it is so much better than before.

At the end of the day, the Android team should be proud of the level of accessibility built in to Android 4.0. They’ve made great strides, and I look forward to the next round of innovations.

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Android Accessibility

The title of this post says it al––this is what we do here.

The Android powered smartphone has become an essential part of daily life for millions of users around the world, but one group seemed to lag behind- the consumer who has trouble seeing the screen.

While most Android devices come with pre-installed screen readers for the totally blind, assistance for people with low vision or just plain old “I forgot my reading glasses”-itis has traditionally been in short supply.

This is where Android Access.org comes in. Our mission is to inform you about all the latest phones, apps and gadgets that make your phone or tablet easier to use in spite of your vision loss. So if you’ve been searching Google wondering, “How do I make the font just a little larger,” you’ve come to the right place.

Whether you are looking to make the type on your Android phone a little larger or looking for a screen reader that doesn’t sound like Steven Hawking with a head cold, we’ll do our best to answer those and all your other Android accessibility questions in the coming weeks and months.

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