Blind Bargains

A Review of the BARD Mobile App

The much anticipated BARD app is finally here. For me, this means I no longer have to carry more then one device, which in my opinion is huge. I can now access all of my books on my iPhone. So what's the new BARD Mobile app like, and what should you expect?

After Downloading the App:

When you first launch the BARD Mobile app, you will be asked to agree to the terms of service. The agree button is at the bottom of the screen. Once you've finished this step, you will need to login to your BARD account. You will only have to do this once.

Sections of the App:

Along the bottom of the screen, you can choose from Bookshelf, Get Books, Settings, or Now Reading.

The bookshelf is divided into multiple categories. Books that you have downloaded are put into four categories: audio books, audio magazines, braille books, or braille magazines. When you first start using the app, you will have no books in your bookshelf. To add books, select the Get Books button.

In the Get Books section you have multiple ways to find books. You can check your wish list, look through the most recently added books and magazines, or browse the BARD website. If you choose to browse the BARD website, you will first add the title you want to download to your wish list, you can then select your wish list in the Get Books section to download the title.

The Settings section has three options. Audio settings, visual settings, and user account settings. Under the audio settings you can change your default speed of your audio books. If you change this default, and find that it's too fast or too slow, you can change your speed at any time while reading a book. You can also turn on or off the following options: background playback auto lock during playback, and verbosity. In Visual Settings you can adjust your font size and contrast. Finally, in the User Account Settings you can choose to download over the mobile network or only wi/fi.

the Now Reading button is just what it sounds like. If you select this button, you will be able to resume listening to your currently selected book.

Audio Book Playback:

When listening to an audio book there are a number of options. If you select navigation, you will have the choice of selecting a chapter, page (if it's available), or bookmark. You can also skip ahead or backwards by chapter, phrase, or bookmark. The fast forward and rewind buttons are set to go forward or backwards by five seconds. If you double tap and hold, the increment will continue to increase. This is very useful if you're like me and you fall asleep while reading. The final option is to adjust the speed. It will start with the speed you set in settings. You can then adjust up or down.

Reading Braille Books:

Reading on a braille display is a different experience then many other apps. Since the books are formatted as they would be if they were printed, all of the lines are as close to 40 cells as possible. You will also have to turn off contracted braille while reading or the braille will be gibberish. Other then these differences, reading on a braille display is a great experience.

Overall, the National Library Service has done a fantastic job. The app is very easy to use, downloading books isn't complicated, and now all blind iOS users can access NLS titles.

Category: Software
Displaying 2 comments.
Jeff.young Sunday, 22-Sep-2013 8:36 PM ET:

It's a great app. I only wish they'd add the ability to download books in the background. At the moment you can only actively download a book when the app is open and the device unlocked. If you lock the device or go to another app the download stops until you reopen the app and tell the title to resume downloading.

mcmanus4232 Monday, 23-Sep-2013 3:55 PM ET:

I had a difficult time figuring out exactly how to download a book. Otherwise I think the app is quite nice!

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For the past three years Alena has been a feature writer for the online magazine Matilda Ziegler. She has also been a contractor for the Oregon Commission for the Blind, helping blind adults learn to use adaptive technology. She is studying to be a teacher of the visually impaired at Portland State. You might also recognize her from the Serotalk podcast Triple Click Home.

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