Panel: Brian Norton, Mark Stewart, Belva Smith, and Wade Wingler
Q1. Can you change the name of an iPhone app?
Q2.Why does my bluetooth headset lose its connection?
Q3. Any on-screen keyboards for the Mac?
Q4. How does Cortana compare to Siri?
Q5. Are there portable CCTVs for the classroom?
Q6. Tech predictions for 2016
Send your questions: 317-721-7124 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Tweet using #ATFAQ
——-transcript follows ——
WADE WINGLER: Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions with your host Brian Norton, Director of Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads. This is a show in which we address your questions about assistive technology, the hardware, software, tools and gadgets that help people with disabilities lead more independent and fulfilling lives. Have a question you’d like answered on our show? Send a tweet with the hashtag #ATFAQ, call our listener line at 317-721-7124, or send us an email at email@example.com. The world of assistive technology has questions, and we have answers. And now here’s your host Brian Norton.
BRIAN NORTON: Hello, and welcome to ATFAQ episode 20. I want to thank everyone for joining us today. I want to introduce to you guys the panel. Belva Smith is here with us. You want to say hey?
BELVA SMITH: Hi guys. We also have Mark Stewart who is here.
MARK STEWART: Hey, everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: We also have Wade Wingler.
WADE WINGLER: Hey, and Brian, congratulations on 20 episode. You are getting there. But we are moving right along. I can’t believe we’ve kept this up for this long for sure. For new listeners, I want to give them a quick look at how things work here. We are a question and answer show customer if you guys have questions about assistive technology – and it can be really anything related to folks with physical impairments, hearing, sensory, developmental, cognition, other kinds of things – please send us your questions. It can be software, hardware related. Send us your questions and we take some time to look at those and hopefully come up with some good answers for you as far as what might be helpful. That’s a little bit about how our show works. If you have questions, we love when people give us a call on our listener line or send us an email. You can do that by calling our listener line at 317-721-7124. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you love twitter, you can also send us a tweet with the hashtag #ATFAQ. If you are looking for our shore want to tell others about our show, you can find us on iTunes. We also have a website at ATFAQ show.com. Or you can just go to our website which is www.eastersealstech.com. Without further ado, we’ll jump into questions. We estimate things lined up. The first one is a voicemail that we received from Chris out in Utah. He actually had to questions but we will take one at a time.
CHRIS: This is Chris Green in Utah. I’m calling for the frugal he asked questions podcast. I have two questions this morning. First of all, I have an iPhone 5S that I added several applications to to help me navigate the world in my blindness. I’ve noticed that most, if not all, of the applications, when they are added to the dashboard, they do not necessarily list it or read the name of the app. They will list something more generic. For example, I have downloaded the video app to access magazines to my local library, and it lists the app on the dashboard as library. I also have my ALDS church library on my phone, and also list it as library. It gets somewhat confusing. My question would be is there a way to alter or change the names of those applications as they appear on the dashboard, or do I need to go through a cumbersome process of setting up folders and try to group them in my applications.
WADE WINGLER: I don’t know.
BELVA SMITH: Can you do what?
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t know if we can or not.
WADE WINGLER: I don’t know if you can rename.
BELVA SMITH: Can you rename an app?
BRIAN NORTON: You cannot rename an app, is my understanding. You cannot go in and change the actual app name. You can, like you mentioned Chris, you can put it into a folder, then that folder something, but you cannot go in and edit the name. Something that I did find, which may or may not be helpful for you, is specifically you can go in and actually download different apps to be able to change the icons related to any particular app. If you’ve got to apps that are named library or libraries, like you mentioned, you can actually change the look of those particular icons. Again, you mentioned that you are a person who is blind and are probably relying on voiceover, and you’re listening to the app name as you go over.
WADE WINGLER: So the icon is not going to help.
BRIAN NORTON: So that icon is not necessarily going to help very much. It’s my understanding that that’s the consensus in the room?
WADE WINGLER: Belva is getting the funny face.
BELVA SMITH: I just found a YouTube video on how to rename your app.
BRIAN NORTON: I think I want to that YouTube video —
WADE WINGLER: Because you researched.
BRIAN NORTON: I did do a little bit of research on that. I think that for a developer how to rename apps. Correct me if I’m wrong. Look at it a little bit further and correct me if I’m wrong.
BELVA SMITH: This is saying that I need to go to the app store and locate the app that I want to rename.
WADE WINGLER: That’s if you are a developer.
BELVA SMITH: My next suggestion would be to use Siri to open those apps instead of flicking through and listening for the names.
WADE WINGLER: But if they are both called library.
BELVA SMITH: But he said one is called library and one is libraries.
WADE WINGLER: But you have to remember which one is which.
BRIAN NORTON: Right.
BELVA SMITH: This is true.
BRIAN NORTON: Unfortunately I’m not sure there is a great answer for you on that particular one. I know you can’t go in unless you are that developer to be able to change the app name.
BELVA SMITH: This is why we are creating or developing this village of AT users. If there someone listening that knows of a way to change the app name on your iPhone or your iPad, give us a call, shoot us a tweet or whatever you do. Let us know how to do that so we can share it.
BRIAN NORTON: For sure. Give us a call on that listener line which is 317-721-7124, or email us at email@example.com. Let us know if you have a different answer for us. I think it’s our belief in the room or consensus in the room that that’s not something we can do very easily.
WADE WINGLER: You can rename folders and that usually can’t get the job done as well, but you are right.
BRIAN NORTON: Chris mentioned the laborious nature of creating folders for everything and renaming those and putting particular names to them.
BELVA SMITH: It looks like if you have an android, it’s easier.
WADE WINGLER: Of course it is.
BRIAN NORTON: So this is part two of Chris’s question. We are going to go ahead and play that for you.
CHRIS: My second question is with my iPhone, I use a Plantronics Legend Bluetooth, and often as I’m trying to make phone calls, my phone announces that it is calling the number I asked for, and then the Bluetooth will disconnect and I have to use the phone by hand. It’s very cumbersome for me because if I use the phone holding it in my hand, when you move a little bit, it’s trying to switch back and forth between speakerphone and regular phone and my phone calls get cut out and interrupted and everything, and people don’t understand what I’m talking about. I wonder if there’s some sort of set up — which apparently seems to me the setting are very limited between the iPhone in the Bluetooth headpiece. I would like to know if there is some way of changing either settings in my phone or if there’s some way of doing something in the pairing of the Bluetooth that would help resolve that. I also have a question in connection with the Bluetooth. When I used mobile speak on a Windows phone several years ago, the Bluetooth I had at that time, which I believe to be a Motorola, would announce the phone numbers as they came through on incoming calls, the caller ID number. All of the Bluetooth headpiece is I have had since will only announce numbers by name rather than the number of people in my contacts list and will not read a noncontact phone number as it comes in. This makes it hard for me to screen phone calls. If I don’t use the Bluetooth, the phone will tell me which phone number is calling.
BRIAN NORTON: Great questions, Chris. It sounds like you’re having some difficulty with that Plantronics headset. I know – and I’m looking over across the room at Mark who is in the room with us. I’ve not had that kind of experience with Plantronics Voyager legend.
MARK STEWART: There must be some sort of a connectivity issue which you were asking about. I haven’t had a lot of experience with it having that kind of problem either. That’s my favorite Bluetooth headset. I use it myself and recommend it for a lot of consumers. By chance, if there is any possibility you are holding it to your ear, it does have smart sensor technology that it realizes when it’s over your ear or not. If by chance you are setting it up to your ear and making the call to see what’s going to happen, when you take it away, it may very well bounce back to your phone settings. Plantronics is good with regards to customer service. Of course you want to make sure that your firmware and software for the headset is updated. There is pretty robust software that you can use. If you go to Plantronics.com, there is a software called Plantronics headset updater. There is a Plantronics headset updater tool at Plantronics.com. You plug in to your PC by USB, and never get there. You may want to look up that headset updater tool. It will not only check and make sure that your firmware and software is up-to-date but it will also give you other options with regard to the various most current types of software that it has. That update may very well take care of it. I assume your iPhone is up-to-date with regards to the iOS software. That would update Bluetooth setting as well. Is the Plantronics compatible with the iPhone 5S? Absolutely.
WADE WINGLER: Give one of those IT answers. It should work. It should do that.
BRIAN NORTON: The other place I would send you – and I’ve often done this for Plantronics headset. We have recommended lots of different Plantronics headsets over the years. There is a place I call often called hello direct. They call themselves as the Plantronics experts. They have offered me many phone calls with advice in the past when I’ve had some difficulty with connection issues with their Bluetooth headsets. They might be able to offer some timely advice to you to be up to get that connected more reliably.
WADE WINGLER: The next part of that question was, the incoming caller ID would say the name of the person based on his contacts to his Bluetooth, but now it’s not doing that anymore. It used too and it stopped. My experience has been that when firmware upgrades and software upgrades happen, sometimes stuff sort of drops and drops out like that. Any suggestions on how to deal with that?
BRIAN NORTON: I will go back to what Mark mentioned earlier as we were talking about the Plantronics headset. That my headset updater tool is a great tool to be able to go down and drill down and say yes, I want this, or no I don’t want that involved with my headset.
WADE WINGLER: So there may be a setting in there.
BRIAN NORTON: It lets you monkey with the setting to add those in.
WADE WINGLER: Belva, you said over the years you’ve seen iOS gain and lose that feature, not necessarily on Bluetooth but on the phone itself, it dropped away and then they brought it back.
BELVA SMITH: Right. Two updates ago, it quit. Again, this isn’t associated with the Bluetooth —
WADE WINGLER: Just the phone?
BELVA SMITH: Just the phone itself. Voiceover stopped announcing the name of the caller, just the phone number. With the last update, it’s doing the name and the number again —
BRIAN NORTON: Is at 9.1, 9.2?
BELVA SMITH: — assuming that the person is in your contacts.
BRIAN NORTON: I think 9.2 just came out the other day.
BELVA SMITH: I think it must be 9.1 because it wasn’t just recently.
BRIAN NORTON: Just one more question that came in from Chris. We met this is the Chris show today.
BRIAN NORTON: We are going to answer all of Chris’s questions. Thanks for giving us a call. Again, if folks want to give us a call, please do. That number is 317-721-7124. We do play your voice in our show. We love to have people call in life and ask the question. Let’s listen to this next question.
CHRIS: This is Chris Green in Utah. I have another question. I suppose it can go either to the FAQ side or the AT Update side. I was just curious and hopeful that someone can help me with something here. Is there a reliable, accessible, and hopefully reasonably priced app to read you PC barcode? I have seen several listed in the App Store and I have kind of explored them, I have yet to find anything that’s really functional or easy to use for a blind person. I appreciate your help on this. Have a good day.
BRIAN NORTON: We’ll just throw that question out to the group.
BELVA SMITH: First let’s thank Chris for being such a faithful listener. He is not only listening to us but to listen to the other shows as well. That’s great.
MARK STEWART: Thanks, Chris.
BELVA SMITH: I don’t know what once you have tried and what once you haven’t tried, but I have recently experienced the quick scan and found it to be rather reliable and very quick. Quick scan is free, but for $.99 if you upgrade to the quick scan Pro, then you will also get back pressing information. If you’re trying to comparison shop, that might be something that you’re interested in. Another app that I have recently experienced is called scan life. It is also free. I found it to be pretty responsive and quick. What it does is it may or may not include pricing information, but it does give you complete descriptive information as to what the product is that you just scanned. That’s my two.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s great. Isn’t it amazing for $.99 or less, or free, most of the time you can get a pretty good app that does something cool?
BELVA SMITH: Right. Before this, what were we looking at? We were looking at something like the ID mate where it was —
BRIAN NORTON: $1,200.
BELVA SMITH: — Yeah, twelve, fifteen-hundred bucks. It’s a big device that you are wearing around your neck. It’s not a little phone you are carrying in your hand. The difference in that, it didn’t have to have the Wi-Fi connection.
WADE WINGLER: And you could load your own stuff into it.
BELVA SMITH: Exactly.
WADE WINGLER: But Brian, you were playing with the LookTell recognizer not too long ago. It does some of this stuff too, right?
BRIAN NORTON: It does do some of those things. In fact there are a couple apps that you may also want to know about. There’s one called the LookTell recognizer which Wade just mentioned. But also Tap Tap See. I would call those general recognition apps. They are not necessarily looking at the UPC barcode. If there is something that may be isn’t recognized or maybe it is off-the-wall kind of product where is not recognized by the UPC barcode, you can simply take a picture of an item and give it an audio description. I did this at a conference last week where he took two identical, almost identical bottles of salad dressing, one is blue cheese and one was garden classic Caesar, and we took pictures of them, they had almost the exact labels, look very similar. We were able to take pictures and give each a separate audio description so that whenever your camera focuses in on one of those bottles, it will actually tell you gently what it is and helps you recognize those particular products without even looking at a barcode. Very cool apps.
BELVA SMITH: The good thing about those kinds of apps is you’re not trying to focus on the barcode on the product. That seems to be — the apps are pretty user-friendly. He pointed and sit there and it does it. The problem is finding the barcode on the product, because the barcode is located in all different places. Is it on the front, the back, the bottom, the top, the middle? You don’t know.
BRIAN NORTON: I sit there at the store myself trying to help the cashier find the barcode. It’s like I’m flipping through bags of dog food.
WADE WINGLER: Or shop at Aldi where they have the hugest barcodes so that they work a lot better.
BELVA SMITH: That’s going to be the next thing, is we need to standardize where all barcodes have to be located.
BRIAN NORTON: That is never going to happen.
BELVA SMITH: That is never going to happen.
WADE WINGLER: But the rules of the Belva universe. I love it.
BRIAN NORTON: Don’t forget to send us your questions. You can send us those via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our next question was an email we received. It mentions, I have a client using a built-in on-screen keyboard on his Mac computer. We are looking for suggestions on better access like a different on-screen keyboard or word prediction program. I’m not sure what folks in the room have on that. Anything?
BELVA SMITH: I was counting on you for the word prediction because you are the expert with that.
BRIAN NORTON: I think maybe for some folks, they might not even know that, on your Mac, you can bring in on-screen keyboard and you can get word prediction. It’s built right into the computer. It’s a little bit hard to find the on-screen keyboard. You have to actually set that up, but once it’s there, it does work pretty well. In fact, if I can, I will run people through a few steps if you’re looking for that in your Mac computer. The first place you would go is under your system preferences, which is the little system icon that’s typically in your dock. You can hit the command and look that up by just typing in system preferences. Once you get there, you will go to the icon called language in text, which is on the top row usually for five icons over. Once you bring up that particular dialog, you can click on input sources, which is towards the end of the top row there and has language, text, format, and input sources. If you go there you can click and check the box next to the keyboard and character viewer. Let me also throw in a cold get on there. There are different versions of operating systems, so things may look a little bit different depending on the operating system that you use. Again, look at that keyboard and character viewer. Once you are there, to use the answering keyboard, select the keyboarding character viewer icon on the status menu and say “show who keyboard viewer”. It will go ahead and pop up and appear on your screen. You can bring in on-screen keyboard up.
The other thing I will mention as there is in a quick type of feature which does word prediction for you. Anywhere you are typing text on your screen, you can simply hit the escape key. When you click on the escape key, it’s going to pop up a box of predictions for you. So based on what you are typing, it will actually give you a prediction box. You can arrow down that box, and once you find the one you want you can press her and it will put that word in there. Just for folks who haven’t used the built-in accessibility features there in Mac with regard to the on-screen keyboard and the word predation that is there, those are just two quick useful things that folks can use. As far as another app, something other than the built-in stuff, there are a few other places that you can find. I found a company called Assistiveware. It has a very good on-screen keyboard and word production tool that’s all within one program, and I’ve used that for lots of folks who have difficulty with traditional keyboard access and mouse access. In fact, it also can be switch controlled, so if you have one reliable controllable action, whether you blink your eye, you can wiggle your big toe, wag your head side to side, you would be able to use the computer that way as well using the Assistiveware software.
MARK STEWART: Those of the folks that make Proloquo2Go.
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah, the communication app. Proloquo2Go and also Proloquo4Text. They had a variety of different products and services and software that folks can use. I’ve been impressed with the Assistiveware on-screen keyboard and prediction. I will relate it a little bit for Windows users. I don’t know if you guys have had experience with soft types before. Such type is in on-screen keyboard for the Windows environment. It’s very similar in that it gives you an on-screen keyboard with word prediction built into one program, the very same thing with Assistiveware. However, I think Assistiveware goes a little bit beyond that because it does provide that switch access for you.
MARK STEWART: Pretty customizable too.
BRIAN NORTON: I think you’re actually able to go in and create custom keyboard layouts and overlays based on the application of the features that you use. I think I’ve done a few times for folks who were using similarly interesting programs, so we were able to do a couple custom overlays for them to better their access.
BELVA SMITH: I also looked on CNET Download recommendations, and they have a virtual keyboard for the Mac that’s free that can be downloaded. I don’t know, it just says it’s easy point-and-click typing so I don’t know if it’s any different or better than the one that’s built into the OS. But also MacUpdate.com has some virtual keyboards that you can look at.
BRIAN NORTON: Great. For the most part, with a Mac, you’re going to have to have a touchscreen to be able to interface with it directly, but for most on-screen keyboards, you can do the point-and-click feature as well.
BRIAN NORTON: if you haven’t done so already, been thinking about a question, you’ve hesitated to ask, now is your time. You can send us a tweet at hashtag #ATFAQ, send us an email, or give us a call on our listener line that we’ve mentioned before. Please do that and will go ahead and capture the question and maybe give it an answer on our next show.
The next question we have for you today, a question about Cortana which is a new voice assistant for the Windows environment. Have you tried the new Cortana software and Windows 10, and how does it compare to Siri? Anybody have experience with Cortana?
WADE WINGLER: Not Windows 10. I have on Windows phone. I’ve played around with iPhones versus Windows phone and Cortana. Quite frankly, in that environment, I kind of feel like it’s six in one and a half dozen in another, as my grand dad would say. There are some slight differences. Siri does one thing a little bit better, Cortana might do another one a little bit better. By and large, the structure of the functionality is pretty much the same. I can’t say that I’ve had that kind of experience with Windows 10. I haven’t hardly messed with it.
BRIAN NORTON: I think folks should also realize, Cortana isn’t simply in the Windows environment. You can load it to your iOS device and have it on your iPhone as well. One of the differences that I’ve noticed is, and Cortana, they give you this thing called a notebook. It actually learns things from you. It will start figuring out and knowing more about you, things like academics or where you like to eat or drink. The things that you ask, it keeps a notebook full of those things, so that when you ask it a question later on, it kind of hopefully will give you a better answer because it’s learned a little bit more about you, what you like and don’t like, those kinds of things.
WADE WINGLER: Like you are dating or something.
BELVA SMITH: So what if I don’t pronounce the name of a restaurant correctly? Does eventually figure that out?
BRIAN NORTON: I think it would have the same issues between them.
BELVA SMITH: With the notebook, I was hoping that it might allow me to actually train the way I speak.
BRIAN NORTON: I did read one review between the two. They mention that the Siri developers may have a little bit more humor to them, like asking a joke, the Siri answers were a little bit more funny than maybe the Cortana once were. I think it would have the same issues with voice recognition and understanding between the software packages. I’m not sure there’s much of a difference there.
BELVA SMITH: I think one Siri was first introduced to us, there was lots of room for improvement, and that improvement has happened. I think with that one [Cortana], they kind of sat back and learned. Their first release was much better than the Siri first release, I would say.
MARK STEWART: So Cortana on the iPhone is fairly new. It was on Windows 10 and then Windows phone and then more recently came out on the iPhone. One of the things about using Siri is it’s embedded into its own software. Is that a third-party app. You can access more information about your phone. You can navigate your phone a little more easily than you can with Cortana. Then again, I think the trade-off is that with Cortana, the notebooks, like you talked about, Brian, personalizing it a little bit more quickly. It becomes your own.
BRIAN NORTON: Right. I may be wrong in this, and I’m sure folks will let me know if I am. I believe when it’s on a Windows 7 computer, I thought you were able to open up programs. It give you a little bit more control of the environment. I knew that you had Microsoft Word on it and you can say open Microsoft Word and it would do that for you. In the past, we had to use voice input programs like Dragon NaturallySpeaking or even the built-in voice input to get the stuff to happen. Now it’s a little bit more simple. It’s right there on the start menu.
MARK STEWART: That’s right as far as I know.
BRIAN NORTON: I believe that does work.
MARK STEWART: Now there is the Dragon anywhere app which we talked about a few shows back. Is that out yet?
BELVA SMITH: I think it’s out.
MARK STEWART: I think it just recently came out as well. It would be interesting to — I need to re-shoots that — it would be interesting to see. Dragon, you have to push some of it yourself. Dragon NaturallySpeaking learns, but it especially could learn – I’m thinking of Belva’s example of the pronunciation of the restaurant. It absolutely has the technology to do that, but you may want to actually train that word. What we found is we like to train it a number of times, four or five times, and then it will know the way you said the particular word with your own voice. I need to research whether the Dragon anywhere app with all of its improvements on tablets and smartphones is actually trainable like that.
WADE WINGLER: I’m not sure. I just verified it is available now. You can get a one week free trial. It’s only on android. It costs $15 per month for the service to have Dragon anywhere. You can buy it in a month or 12 month plan, cut the price a little bit, but it’s a subscription model service. I didn’t know it was going to be like that.
BRIAN NORTON: But it is more of the traditional Dragon feel. Depending on probably the device you are on, you can navigate —
WADE WINGLER: Select text, editing, customized vocabulary. You can do a lot of stuff with it. $15 per month.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s kind of another progression towards that subscription based feel of where software is headed these days.
WADE WINGLER: Sell the blades, not the razors.
BRIAN NORTON: Next question is I’m looking for an ultraportable CCTV to use in the classroom. Any suggestions?
BELVA SMITH: Ultraportable, I assume that means we would love for it to fit into our backpack and go from class to class with this. We need to know are we trying to do distance viewing or just desktop viewing. That would make a big difference in what CCTV’s we would be looking at. The three that come to my mind when we talk about this portable stuff is the Topaz PHD, which is a fairly new model. Then there is the Onyx and then there is the Snow Zoom Max. That’s three of the newer ones that I think of when I think of portability.
BRIAN NORTON: A couple recent visits by some vendors, someone brought in a Prodigy Connect 12 inch electronic magnifier. I thought that was a pretty neat device and that it’s a tablet PC, a Samsung Galaxy tab, and actually comes with an external camera that has a really good high quality method of zooming in and zooming out on things. It’s very portable. It forced onto almost the size of a notepad. It’s a really interesting device. Fairly expensive, just like most magnifiers are. The other one is the Traveler HD from Optelec. That’s also an interesting device. It’s very small and portable but has a much larger screen than some of your handheld portable ones. It doesn’t do distance viewing which is a little disappointing. I think that maybe hopefully something they might be able to add into that product eventually. It’s also a pretty good desktop magnifier. One of the ones that’s been around for a while from Enhanced Vision is the Transformer USB that connects into your laptop and has software that will allow you to bring up a magnified image onto your laptop screen. The only trouble with that one is I found most the time when you’re at school, the desks are pretty small. You don’t have the place or the room to be able to put a laptop and the actual magnifier itself next to it. Space becomes an issue.
BELVA SMITH: Space becomes an issue as well as USB ports. It does require two USB ports. More clarification as to what they were trying to do with this would’ve helped us probably pinpoint a particular model better. Again, if we are not trying to do distance viewing, then that changes the ballgame. I would assume that they probably are looking at doing distance viewing. Brian, that first one you mentioned, the new one we have seen, I have some concerns with the CCTV’s that are using the tablets as their brains because you can lose the tablets. If you lose the tablet, you’ve lost your everything.
WADE WINGLER: But that’s true of a handheld Ruby or something. If you lose it, you are done.
BELVA SMITH: That is very true.
BRIAN NORTON: I will say that the tablet that is in this one seems to be fairly secure and it. It takes a little bit of effort to take it out of the actual enclosure or case itself. But I think their intention is for you to be able to take that tablet and use it as a standalone device as well as having it in there. That’s my fear of getting it lost. I take it with me to class and it’s all well and fine, but then I leave it on the bus and I get home and I’ve got nothing. The difference between that and the Ruby, the replacement cost for those tablets is phenomenal.
WADE WINGLER: True.
BELVA SMITH: That’s my concern. I’m thinking that I would get used to and become less concerned, because I know it’s probably going to be the way that things are going to go because it just is.
BRIAN NORTON: Just to recap that, what were the ones you mentioned just so the person can go back and do a little research on their own?
BELVA SMITH: I talked about the Topaz PHD, folds up, really lightweight, easy to take with you, does not do the distance viewing though. Then the Snow Zoom. The Snow Zoom only has the seven inch screen. And then the Onyx. Those are all independent. They don’t require a computer, don’t require Internet, just good old-fashioned navigation, fold it up and take it with you.
BRIAN NORTON: And then the three that I mentioned, one was from Humanware, the prodigy connect electronic magnifier. Then there was another one from enhanced vision, the transformer USB. And then the one from Optelec was the traveler HD. You can go out there and take a look at those different ones. I know we are the Tech Act for Indiana, and we have all those different devices in our loan library. I am not sure if, where you are listening, if you have a loan program through the tech act project in your state. You may want to check with them and see if there is some availability to be able to try those things out. You can call the manufacturers is as well and see if they have a local rep who may be able to come out and demonstrate it to you as well. Different way to get your hands on it before you actually put the expense out there. It can be pretty expensive.
BELVA SMITH: I’ll sum this up by saying what I said when I did the first Friday a couple of weeks ago. One size doesn’t fit all. You cannot pick a CCTV without actually seeing how it works
BRIAN NORTON: You can pick one out, but you might be disappointed.
BELVA SMITH: You will be sorry.
BRIAN NORTON: Great.
MARK STEWART: What about capture technology? We are talking about the classroom. You had such a great discussion going on. There is some variability and which ones can have great modification functionality, maybe distance, maybe not, but in about some of these also have capture capability for study.
BRIAN NORTON: Many of them will allow you to take a picture of something in store that picture.
WADE WINGLER: Are those stored on most reflectors right now are they putting them up to dropbox? I haven’t checked in on them lately. What are they doing in terms of storage? Is a still developing?
BELVA SMITH: It’s still developing, but mostly its internal memory for now.
WADE WINGLER: And now it’s time for the wildcard question.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is the wildcard question of the day. This is where Wade Wingler get involved and will throw an off-the-wall question at us and try to shock us, surprised us, make us feel insecure about our answers, all of the above.
WADE WINGLER: I try to help where I can. We are recording as of the very end of the year 2015. As I look at tech headlines of things, I see a lot of predictions for the upcoming year. I don’t know of a better time than to spend with this group talking about what might happen in terms of tech predictions for 2015. I’m not going to ask you for your prediction because I’m getting these look like what easy going to ask at this time. I am looking at an article that was written by a guy named Dave Johnson who is with CBS news. This just came out a few hours ago from the recording. He is predicting a number of things that he thinks are going to get better or he says rise or fall in 2016. I just want to bounce them off you guys and see what you think. One of the first things he says is that we have seen the peak screen size. He talks about the fact that we had little bitty phones that grew into bigger phones that grew into “phablets”, and then you have iPads and android devices that are full page devices shaking down. He is saying that because people are finally starting to settle in, we have an iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, we have Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy S6. They are not changing. They are not bigger. They are not getting smaller. We have kind of gotten to the sweet spot in terms of size for smartphones and similar devices. He says we are there. We have all the versions we will have pure? Have arrived and will not need anything bigger or smaller or whatever. I wonder what you guys think about that. I have a whole list of these things.
BRIAN NORTON: I would agree. Have you tried to hold a 6 Plus and imagine anything bigger? Maybe hold an iPad Mini up to the side of your head to be able to answer a phone. It’s not going to fit in your pocket if it gets any bigger.
BELVA SMITH: I think that’s too big for my hand.
WADE WINGLER: It’s almost too big for my hand. I’m a big guy. I have pretty big hands, but I couldn’t go back away from my 6 Plus. I got it with a lot of trepidation. I really like it.
BRIAN NORTON: I think the thing I love about it is, with the screen size, you can be more productive. It’s a good measure of being very productive and not being overly big that it’s awkward when you try to answer a phone call traditionally with putting it up to the side of your head.
MARK STEWART: There are a couple of things going on there that the writer didn’t specifically mention. One, processing power. If a smaller device, if you are younger or have some laser vision and you’ve got a great though she’s talking about the display on these smaller devices, he’s touching on that, is relatively crystal-clear for the human eye. But usually larger devices can handle more processing power. Now we are starting to get to where the smaller phones can process very quickly and doing a lot of stuff. It’s just a matter of vision. If the smaller device can do everything in larger tablet can, it’s all about what you are comfortable viewing. That’s why, a little bit of a fight there from the vision standpoint, but I do a lot of things on the iPhone rather than an iPad because the iPhone just handles it.
WADE WINGLER: I use to carry my iPad mini around for taking notes in meetings and stuff like that. I’ve got a MacBook now that’s the smaller version MacBook and an iPhone 6 Plus. I don’t use my iPad mini at all anymore just to do demos. I need to type, I’m going to sit in front of my laptop which is almost the size of an iPad anyway, a slightly bigger. If I’m going to into a meeting, I just take the iPhone 6 Plus with me and that’s enough for me to read a bunch of notes. I can read a speech off of it if I need to. It’s big enough for my sausage thumbs to be able to type enough to be effective without having the full-size keyboard.
BELVA SMITH: I want to devices. I want my phone to be my phone. I love that my phone is my phone and my calendar and my GPS and that I can get quick information from the Internet when I need it. But if I’m doing any kind of word processing, not taking it, whatever, I don’t want to do that on my phone. I want a device for that. The iPad is very helpful; however, I can’t do everything I need to do on the iPad, so that has me still relying on my computer. I would love if it could just be my iPhone and my iPad everywhere I went. I would feel so powerful.
MARK STEWART: That’s a fun question. I think he’s right. There is a slow down, right? The Apple Watch has plateaued a little bit. The 6 Plus, some people aren’t going to like that.
BELVA SMITH: I haven’t actually held it in my hand, but I can look at it and just tell that it’s too big.
MARK STEWART: I was going to say the exact opposite thing but I don’t have one either but I would love to have one or
WADE WINGLER: We are passing mine around here.
MARK STEWART: I need the visual a little bit and I can handle the form factor.
BELVA SMITH: It’s enormous in my hand. It takes two hands, and it is heavy.
WADE WINGLER: It’s a little heavier. It also has fibrous battery life. It lasts a long time.
BELVA SMITH: I think that’s one of the reasons I want to devices, because I can’t get through the day with my phone doing what I do. If I were trying to do a presentation or word processing, I would just have to have it connected all the time.
WADE WINGLER: I think we mostly agree with that one.
MARK STEWART: I just think, retina display, 4K, is that element to what he is asking about as well.
WADE WINGLER: It’s just a better display, you mean?
MARK STEWART: The fact that we are getting beyond the display being so good that that need is going to plateau because it’s getting beyond what the human eye can detect. The whole idea of Apple’s marketing, calling it retina display, is because it’s actually so good that it’s all the eye needs. Correct me if I’m wrong, 4K is beyond, unless you get really big 4K, it’s beyond what the human eye needs as well.
WADE WINGLER: I think so. I know that Star Trek reruns still looked pretty good on my iPhone these days.
Here is another one that he predicts. he says that smart watches are going to flounder this year. He says that Pebble and Apple Watch and there are a lot of smart watch devices that have kind of started but have not taken the world by storm. He also says on the flip side, people are wearing fit bits. We see more and more people wearing these simple devices that don’t nearly as much. The Apple Watches aren’t doing so well. I can say here, we bought a couple of Apple Watch’s and I wore mine for a day or two and set it aside for Brian. I don’t see you wearing it.
BRIAN NORTON: I did the same thing.
WADE WINGLER: Justin, our other guy here that helps in our library, he’s not wearing it anymore either.
BELVA SMITH: I can honestly say we just had this discussion at the house last night. I’ve no desire for that watch. It doesn’t look pretty at all. Fit bit, I would probably wear that because I think I can put it on and forget about it as long as it was one of them that had the year-long battery. If I have the take it off to charge it, I’m going to put it on the charger and walk out the door without it. That will be a bigger habit than wearing it. Again, I think that’s one of those things where I want to devices. If I want a watch, I want my watch to tell me the time. I don’t need it to be my phone. I need my phone to be my phone.
MARK STEWART: I didn’t have one. What happened with the watch? Was there a lot of redundancy with the iPhone 6?
BRIAN NORTON: It’s a companion device so you have to have your phone paired with it at all times. I would just rather grab my phone out of my pocket and get the full featured app or whatever than having to interact with something that’s a little more simple on my wrist. I do believe we are very specific so we are in disability services and we work with folks with lots of different needs, specifically the folks I’m thinking of, anybody with cognition needs whether that is someone on the autism spectrum, someone who has a traumatic brain injury of some sort. There are some really interesting uses and practical situations where and Apple Watch or some sort of a Pebble or others for Android devices might be useful, then having some sort of wearable technology for reminding people about upcoming events and those kinds of things. I think for most folks, I would certainly agree. Like you mentioned, Wade, I tried it out for a little while. It just wasn’t interesting to me anymore.
WADE WINGLER: And it’s expensive.
BELVA SMITH: Can you get that wet? Can you take a shower with it on?
BRIAN NORTON: It says it’s water resistant. It’s not waterproof.
BELVA SMITH: I was just thinking about the same person that you are describing that it might be helpful for could also just jump in the shower with it on without thinking about taking it off.
WADE WINGLER: Here is another one that hits our sweet spot a little bit that’s interesting. He predicts that smart homes in the Internet of things still won’t take off. It will still be something that tinkerers in special cases like our industry will spend some time on, but people aren’t adopting all of the smart home and Internet of things technology. The stuff that hits home for me as we’ve played with the Wemo stuff here and we played with If This Then That on smartphones. I’m right there with him. It’s just not smooth enough that I want to stick 50 bucks on every power outlet on my house to make them talk to my smartphone. I really wish the thermostat would work well but my interest in Nest compatible. He says it’s going to a little time before that stuff takes off.
BRIAN NORTON: I completely agree. It’s expensive. I don’t have the budget to be able to outfit my house with a bunch of smart devices and things like that. I’m sure many folks are in the same boat that I’m in as far as the expense of it. Again, it’s just not smooth enough for me to commit that kind of resources to make things easier than walking over to my wall and flipping a switch.
BELVA SMITH: I think you just said it. How important is some of this stuff? How important is it for me to be able to control everything with my phone? Again, personally, I don’t want to control everything with my phone. I know a lot of the home security places are now saying you can download our app and can check and see what’s going on. I don’t really want to do that on my phone.
WADE WINGLER: Sitting here in one of the preeminent assistive technology centers, we have to say for folks who use these things as assistive technology, they are more affordable and work better than things in the past. But from a mainstream perspective, I don’t see the traction.
BELVA SMITH: That’s why I think that that is probably a prediction that’s pretty accurate. Is it going to go away? No, because it’s still going to be needed for those special cases.
MARK STEWART: The kinks need to be worked out.
BELVA SMITH: Yeah. And the price.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s a great distinction because in our profession, these things are always going to be needed and necessary for folks, but for your average everyday user of technology who doesn’t have special needs or special circumstances, maybe not.
WADE WINGLER: So there are several more. I’ll just do two more and we can wrap up because I know you’re going a little bit long.
He says that password will start to become obsolete because of thumbprint technology and biometrics and all those kinds of things. We are going to start to see fewer and fewer times where your typing in passwords. The other when he says goes along with that is mobile payments are going to proliferate. People are going to start using Google Wallet and Apple Pay and new things from Samsung and some new card stuff that’s coming out. He is predicting that passwords are going to go away and mobile payment is going to pick up.
BRIAN NORTON: I only have one thing to say about passwords, and that praise the Lord. I am ready to be rid of my passwords.
BELVA SMITH: Let them be gone, right?
BRIAN NORTON: I can’t remember half of my passwords after the 10th time. You can’t reuse them over and over again. My gosh, how many things do I have to come up with to be able to get into something?
BELVA SMITH: And I was just with a consumer last week who said I need help with my Yahoo mail because it’s got an explanation that’s not working. Problem? What is your password? I don’t know. Well, can you help me with my phone? I just got the new iPhone 6S and I need to get everything from my old phone onto my new phone. Great. Do you know your iTunes password? I think it’s this. Or it may be this. It’s got to be this. Okay, so you don’t know your password? So we can do anything with anything because we didn’t know the password. Passwords can be gone yesterday and I would be okay with that.
WADE WINGLER: What about mobile payments? Anybody doing much with that?
BELVA SMITH: I don’t think that’s going to take off too quickly. I think eventually, maybe my grandkids will be carrying some sort of mobile pay. I don’t see myself personally ever doing it. I want to swipe my card.
WADE WINGLER: It’s hard for me because I am a cash guy. We do the whole Dave Ramsey thing. That is the stickler for us.
BRIAN NORTON: I try to make things not too easy on myself. If I have my phone, I can just flip it out at any given moment and pay for anything? That makes me a little scared at what my bills might look like at the end of the month.
BELVA SMITH: That’s what’s making me nervous about, I just got this Amazon Prime. I was sitting in the parking lot buying stuff off of Amazon. That’s scary. I should be able to do that.
WADE WINGLER: My life has stood inside a target buying stuff off of Amazon before.
BELVA SMITH: I didn’t want to say that I was sitting in the parking lot at Meijer. I should not be able to do that sitting on my phone. I should have to go log in and put in a password.
BRIAN NORTON: Absolutely.
MARK STEWART: It’s going to happen though. I compare it a little bit to getting rid of hard copy paper and going paperless. It’s going to happen. It’s just hard for a lot of people to do. Same thing is going to happen with paper money and credit cards.
BRIAN NORTON: I just think about the folks we work with. Manipulating a credit card out of your wallet, in and out, all day long, or cash, how easy could that make it for folks who have mobility issues and being able to get dexterity and fine motor control in your fingers to be able to manipulate that stuff?
BELVA SMITH: When I go to Starbucks, all I do is put out my app and hold my phone out there. They just scan my barcode and you are done.
WADE WINGLER: That is one of the exceptions for me. Plus I do the mobile ordering. About three stoplights before Starbucks, I’m sitting there plugging in my order and it’s ready when I walked in.
BELVA SMITH: So if I’m visually impaired or blind, that would be great because I am not pulling money out waiting for my change and stuff. It’s going to happen but I don’t think I will see it.
MARK STEWART: It’s all about the security. On a different topic, Wade, you were talking about the idea of, if we are all in it together. I think frankly it was back around the time of the economy crash and we were having some side conversations. You started talking about, look, whatever happens —
WADE WINGLER: Happens to us all.
MARK STEWART: — Happens to us all. What I am reaching for the words here is something about, even if some people think that the security isn’t quite there, if the whole populace is starting to do it, it’s going to take up anyway. Gosh help us if the security is not there.
BRIAN NORTON: Hang on for the ride.
WADE WINGLER: By the way, the name of that article is “Which consumer tech trends will rise or fall in 2016?” by Dave Johnson over at CBS news, their Moneywatch program. We will pop a link in the show notes. There were some other good predictions and stuff we didn’t get in. It’s a good article.
BRIAN NORTON: Great conversation today. I want to thank everybody here on the panel for being here. Thanks, Mark. Thanks, Belva. Thanks, Wade. Anything you guys want to say to the group?
WADE WINGLER: Happy new year, everybody. Welcome to 2016.
MARK STEWART: Happy new year. Thanks, guys.
BRIAN NORTON: I hope everybody’s Christmas was great. We are looking forward to 2016. Thanks everyone. Here is how to find our show. You can search assistive technology questions on iTunes. You can look for us on Stitcher or visit us at ATFAQshow.com. Also send us your questions by calling our listener line at 317-721-7124. Or send us a tweet at hashtag ATFAQ. Or you can also email us at email@example.com. We want your questions. In fact, without your questions, we really don’t have a show. So be part of it. We look forward to hearing from you.
WADE WINGLER: Information provided on Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions does not constitute a product endorsement. Our comments are not intended as recommendations, nor is our show evaluative in nature. Assistive Technology FAQ is hosted by Brian Norton; gets editorial support from mark steward and Belva Smith; is produced by me, Wade Wingler; and receives support from Easter Seals Crossroads and the INDATA project. ATFAQ is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more of our shows at www.accessibilitychannel.com.