In a short video and accompanying article, David Pogue profiles a little known but highly useful iOS feature called VoiceOver, which helps visually impaired people do anything and everything on their iPhones.
A few years ago, backstage at a conference, I spotted a blind woman using her phone. The phone was speaking everything her finger touched on the screen, allowing her to tear through her apps. My jaw hit the floor. After years of practice, she had cranked the voice’s speed so high, I couldn’t understand a word it was saying.
And here’s the kicker: She could do all of this with the screen turned off. Her phone’s battery lasted forever.
It’s possible that people using VoiceOver to control their phones are more efficient at many tasks than those who use the default interface.
This was very cool: “If I’m in my office and put my headphones on, I’m hearing the phone call and I’m hearing what VoiceOver is saying, all through the headphones. But the person on the other end cannot hear any of the VoiceOver stuff. You don’t know what I’m reading, what I’m doing. I can do all these complicated things without you hearing it. That’s what’s really incredible. If you and I were working together on a three-way call, and you were to text me, ‘Let’s wrap this up’ or ‘Don’t bring that up on this call’-I would know, but the other guy wouldn’t hear it.
Joe showed me how he takes photos. As he holds up the iPhone, VoiceOver tells him what he’s seeing: “One face. Centered. Focus lock,” and so on. Later, as he’s reviewing his photos in the Camera Roll, VoiceOver once again tells him what he’s looking at: “One face; slightly blurry.”
See also how blind people use Instagram and iPhone: a revolutionary device for the blind.
David Pogue has been keeping a list of questions that he doesn’t have answers for; some of them are pretty interesting.
* Why is Wi-Fi free at cheap hotels, but $14 a night at expensive ones?
* Do P.R. people really expect anyone to believe that the standard, stilted, second-paragraph C.E.O. quote was really uttered by a human being?
* Why doesn’t someone start a cellphone company that bills you only for what you use? That model works O.K. for the electricity, gas and water companies — and people would beat a path to its door.
* Why doesn’t everyone have lights that turn off automatically when the room is empty?
David Pogue writes that the iPhone lives up to most of its hype. Summary: typing is so-so, browser good, network slow, email is great, and a modified Russian reversal joke: “On the iPhone, you don’t check your voice mail; it checks you”. (thx, david)
Update: Walt Mossberg has a much more in-depth review…he liked it less than Pogue, I think. Regarding the Microsoft Exchange incompatibility speculation: “It can also handle corporate email using Microsoft’s Exchange system, if your IT department cooperates by enabling a setting on the server.”
Update: Steven Levy weighs in with a review in Newsweek. I wonder how many review phones got sent out? I’m guessing less than 20.
David Pogue and Boing Boing have been ensnared by the airplane-on-a-treadmill problem we debated here last February. The airplane still takes off. :)
Mostly positive review of the Sony Reader by David Pogue. That it’s Windows-only is a real bummer for me and my go-go Macintosh lifestyle.
Update: Sorry, the “Windows-only” bit above is confusing. The software to load documents directly to the Reader is only available for Windows, but you can use any old OS you want to put documents on an SD card and then the card into the Reader. (thx, erik)
TED is releasing audio and video of some of their talks for free on the web. Current offerings include Al Gore, David Pogue, and Gapminder’s Hans Rosling. They’ll be adding one talk a week from their archives.
Update: Here’s a post about the release from TED Blog.
David Pogue has a great list of tongue-in-cheek rules for trolls when responding to online writing. This list is spot-on…I have a mailbag full of chuckleheaded responses that adhere to many of these points, particularly numbers 1, 2, 6, and 9.