I love testing products like the one you will read about below. When I was a kid, I took apart toys, radios, record players, cassette players and other things to see how they worked. My love for testing came from that. I like to take things apart and see what is inside. I have tested software and hardware over the years, but never found a career in doing this for a living.
Recently, I had the rare chance to actually test a product. I set up a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 for a friend and found the experience rewarding. I rarely get the chance to test products for usability, so I eagerly jumped on this. I do scout for jobs, but haven’t found any that would fit my specifications for testing for usability by a totally blind person, either the companies I look at want a degree or they are using products where you need to see to use them. I have no engineering degree, just 41 years of experience with life as a blind person. I would love to do something like this as a career. I’ve been told I write very well, so you will see this below. I did not take note so if I leave something out, my memory is starting to go. Maybe too much beer?
I opened up the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 and looked at its arrangement of buttons. It was quite easy to figure out. If you hold the device in portrait mode, the headphone jack is on the top right. On the right side, the power button is the first one down, followed by the volume rocker. The home button is located on the bottom of the device’s front panel.
There are slots for a micro SD card and a SIM card on the left side. On the bottom are two speaker grills left and right and the power connector to charge the unit located in between the two speaker grills.
Before I turned on the unit, I wanted to see how to get TalkBack, (Google’s assistive service), activated on Android 4.2. After using google.com, I found that you simply hold down two fingers on the screen until the unit tells you that TalkBack is on. I must say the TTS voice Samsung uses is more pleasant than the default TalkBack voice.
Once I did this, TalkBack gave me a crash course in using it. I followed the instructions and finished it with little difficulty. Sometimes, the angles were a bit off, but it was no problem for me. I am no stranger to touch screens, as I use an iPhone and iPad on a regular basis.
In the three years I’ve been away from Android, Android has come a long way! I last used a phone from T-Mobile with a slide-out keyboard. You could draw your finger on the screen, but you couldn’t tap the item in question. You had to use the circular button on the bottom of the phone to make a selection and press on it to activate the item.
I set up the device with WI-FI turned on. I did run into an issue with typing in my WI-FI password, but fortunately, I had a Bluetooth keyboard handy. The letters did not speak when attempting to find them. I’m not sure if that is common or if it was the device. I did switch from Samsung’s TTS voice to the default TTS for Talkback to see if that was the issue, but it was not.
After that minor issue, everything else went smooth! It was tough turning down the 50GB of DropBox space for two years, but I skipped that and other things the device needed for personalization.
The last step I did was update the Tab 3 to Android 4.4.2. Happily, that went off without a hitch. TalkBack spoke when swiping to items on the screen. One difference between TalkBack and VoiceOver I found right away was everything is not found by swiping. For instance, to find the “Install” button to update the OS, I had to explore the screen to find it. I do not know if explore by touch was on, but that may have been a PEBKAC problem.
I thoroughly enjoyed working with this device, and am thinking about getting my mitts on one or maybe a Nexus 7. Time will tell!
Android has certainly come a long way and based on the out of the box apps that comes with the OS and the limited time I had to play with it, I am impressed!
As a side note, if anyone is looking for a tester, contact me! I would be happy to assist in any way I can. My contact form is on the front page of the blog. You can also leave a comment if you desire.