We're one story away from revealing the top story of 2012 in our Blind Bargains top 10. This year's panel included participants from across the assistive technology scene: Darren Burton, Jason Meddaugh, Wayne Merritt, Jamie Pauls and Joe Steinkamp. We'll post a new story every day until we reach number one, which will be revealed on SeroTalk live on Thursday at 2 PM Eastern. In case you missed them, you can read our earlier stories on our countdown. Number 3 takes up up the coast to another major player.
For a couple of years, Android had been chugging along and gaining a lot of mainstream acceptance. And while some diehards have been playing with its built-in and fragmented accessibility for this entire time, it wasn't until Google IO that others began to take notice. Jellybean brought with it many accessibility changes and signs of encouragement from Google. Accessibility was mentioned straight away in the first day's keynote. Braille support, which now includes grade 2 output, was added. And a familiar-looking gesture mode was added.
This year, we learned and reaffirmed a few things about Google. When it comes to access, they won't necessarily get it right the first time. But it is readily apparent that they are listening. It takes a lot to implement a new accessibility mode and realize within six months that the solution from Android 4.0 wasn't good enough. And while the Nexus line of devices isn't perfect, we've seen a steady stream of improvements throughout the year: continuous reading mode, customizable gestures and access to the on-screen keyboard to name a few.
I'm already anticipating the comments and questions of why this story placed ahead of the iPhone, but it wasn't because of a preference for one device or another. This list is meant to recognize the most influencial and talked about stories of the year and actually was the only one to receive votes from every member of the panel. We're now getting to the point that the two biggest mobile operating systems will be accessible, a statement that we've never been able to say before. When comparing Android now to what we had a year ago, a lot of credit needs to be given. And while we always like to see the pace of improvement heightened, it's good to see the progress made.
Here's more from Joe. "Google, in 2012, demonstrated they could change the conversation in the mobile marketplace. If it wasn’t Samsung selling like gangbusters with the Galaxy S 3 and Galaxy Note lines, and taking the number one phone maker in the world title to boot, it was Google its self-having hits with the Nexus 4. Tablets also saw competition from Google with the amazing Nexus 7. And in the cases with the Nexus 7 and the nexus 10, along with the Samsung aided Nexus 10 and other nexus models, Google won the war on Android’s biggest issue with version fragmentation. This is key as jellybean 4.2 offers a very viable and welcome improvement to the level of access previously seen with Talkback. For those who have been Android loyalists, this release may bring a mixed bag in its more iOS Voiceover approach to access in Explore by Touch. But for those wanting to have options and a more Apple like experience, this version of Android should be the very lowest version number considered when dipping a toe into the water of Android devices. Also, the Nexus 7 is way cheaper than an iPad mini."
Listen to the latest episode of That Android Show which takes an in-depth look of the Nexus 7.
Be sure to sound off in the comments, and tune in at 2 PM on Thursday to learn about number 1.Category: Articles
Speaking for myself, I'm glad to see the progress being made. However, Android is not yet able to replace iOS for me. I need accessible Wordprocessing with real formatting (e.g. Pages), fully accessible ebook readers like Nook and iBooks, and some of the other productivity apps provided. The first two are the big ones however, if Android gets those, I'll be set. I can find alternatives for the rest.
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.