I have blogged previously regarding my Ipod Touch (4th Generation) and some of the apps which I’ve downloaded onto the device (see, for example my post on the accessibility of Ibooks).
I recently purchased, from Apple’s Apps Store an app called Voice Actions which enables the user to control their “I” device using their voice. Below are my thoughts on Voice Actions.
Pannous (the developer of Voice Actions) state that the app allows the user to open the web browser using voice. At first I was disappointed as on saying “open Safari” (Apple’s web browser) nothing happened, however on changing my command to “open browser” Voice Actions did, indeed open the internet.
As regards searching this is rather hit and miss. On asking Voice Actions to “look up William Shakespeare I was directed to a web page who’s first link directed me to William Hill the bookies. Not being a betting man I refrained from having a flutter and, instead rephrased my request as “find Shakespeare”. This time Voice Actions did it’s stuff and the first search result returned did refer to the bard of Avon rather than my local bookies!
On asking Voice Actions to “find Alfred Houseman” I was pleasantly surprised to be taken straight to Wikapeidia’s page on the English poet.
Fancying a change from literature I asked Voice Actions to “find Conservatism” and the app began reading out an entry on said philosophy.
On asking Voice Actions to “look up” a topic the user is taken to a webpage displaying a series of search results. I had no problem navigating through the results using my Ipod’s screen reader (Voiceover), however on asking the app to “find” rather than to “look up” a specific topic, Voice Actions opens a specific entry and begins reading 9(using it’s own voice as opposed to the Ipod’s in-built Voiceover) and there appears to be no way for a blind person to interact with the webpage while Voice Actions is voicing.
Voice Actions can do more than search for information. For example you can ask it to open the music app/folder on your “I” device. I did this and music started playing, however, again there seems to be no way in which a blind person can interact with the music app while Voice Actions is in control. When the user opens the app himself Apple’s Voiceover screen reader permits the visually impaired user to navigate around music, click on albums etc but, as pointed out above this does not appear to be possible when Voice Actions is in the driving seat.
So what is my verdict on Voice Actions? Well accessibility issues certainly require to be addressed, however for £2.99 it is not a bad little app. For further information on Voice Actions please visit http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/voice-actions/id422037126?mt=8