I recently read the February 2016 issue of AccessWorld where Shelly Brisbin gave a review of several apps for the android phone. In the article she took a look at some of the best apps for Android users with low vision. Her focus was on apps that support a low-vision Android user experience, and also make it possible to use a phone or tablet as a visual assistant. She cautions that there are many more accessible apps that work well with the TalkBack screen reader, and also provide great assistance for the visually impaired. You can find additional accessible apps by going to the community website, www.InclusiveAndroid.com. On the website members rate and review a wide range of Android hardware and software. But in the article the apps range from using your camera, scanner, magnifier, on screen keyboard and much more. Below I have listed five of the several apps listed; but to read more go to AccessWorld.
Before Brisbin list the best apps she emphasizes the importance of knowing your Android OS. Android runs on such a wide array of devices that a number of versions are in circulation. This is important to pay attention to because not all accessibility features and apps are available on all OS versions. She notes that version 5, also called Lollipop, marked a particularly important gain for users with low vision. Lollipop (and its successor, Marshmallow) added the ability to invert the colors on your device screen, providing a dark background under light text and icons. If this is a feature you wish to use, or if you want to use apps that accomplish the same task, be sure you have Lollipop (or later) installed. Additionally, check your Accessibility settings to see whether the maker of your device has added options of its own. For example, Samsung has done this by offering their own keyboards and speech engines.
AMagnify from MPaja
AMagnifiy (free or $1.31, Android 2.2 or later) uses your device's camera to zoom in on what it is pointed at. Magnify text, freeze the image you've taken, and invert the magnified image. The paid version removes ads. You will find many magnification apps in the Google Play store. AMagnifiy is a great choice because it is both extremely simple to use and offers great features.
Smart Magnifier from Smart Tools Co.
Use Smart Magnifier (free, Android 2.3 or later) as a full-screen magnifying glass, or concentrate the enlarged area in a smaller section of the screen. Onscreen controls make it easy to zoom, auto-focus, freeze, and flip magnified images, or to use your device's LED flash to add more light.
A Better Camera from Almalence
Here's an example of an app with lots of features that's also easy to use. A Better Camera (free light version or $1.99 for full version, Android 4.0 or later) helps you take better photos with your Android device, and gives you access to a number of settings to help you focus on what you see in your viewfinder. A grid with bright, thick lines helps you center images and keep subjects aligned in the viewfinder, while large buttons surrounding the image area give you access to settings for burst photography, night mode, video, focus, ISO selections, and more.
Designed to help you type faster, and with as few fingers as possible, MessageEase (free, Android 2.2 or later) is an alternative onscreen keyboard for your device. You can use it instead of the default Google device keyboard, or you can launch it for specific tasks, like typing texts, and return to the usual keyboard when you're done. MessageEase uses large letters, arranged based on how frequently you're likely to type a particular one. The R key will be near at hand, while you might have to reach a bit to find the Z, for example. You can also customize the keyboard's layout and color scheme.
Shades, from Eyes-Free Project
Bright displays can be challenging for those with sensitivity to light. If you typically turn your screen brightness to a low setting, and still find that it allows too much light in, Shades (free) may be useful. It allows you to reduce the brightness of your screen below the typical level set by the hardware. As a side benefit, lower brightness saves battery life.
So now you have it! Here are some of the best apps for Android users with low vision. Do you use an Android phone? After reading this blog post was the list helpful to you? What other apps not on the list do you use?