Steve Got An iPhone…

…And so far, he hates it!

Of all the songs in the world that could have popped into Carin’s head as she watched me play with my shiny new phone, this was the winner. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about that. I probably don’t wanna know, actually.

Yes, I caved. My old Nokia 6682 has been showing me signs pretty much since I got it back in 2009 that it was ready to bite the dust, but the last few months have been worse than ever, so since Rogers had a deal on smartphones, I thought now would be as good a time as any to replace the old thing.

I knew going in that I was more than likely ending up with an iPhone. When it comes to accessibility, they’re pretty much as good as it gets. some people swear by their androids, but judging from what I’ve seen and heard the accessibility features are very cobbled together and even less intuitive than usual for somebody just figuring out buttonless screens for the first time, and I knew I’d have enough trouble with the iPhone as it was, so that made the decision. I’d have loved a keyboard phone, but the Blackberry screenreader is still just a baby, and I want to be able to use my phone for more than adjusting speech rate and turning the volume up and down.

So I ended up getting an iPhone 4. Why not a 4S, you ask. I know you ask, because I’ve gotten that question from all kinds of people on Twitter. the reason is simple. Rogers said here are your choices. You can get a free 4, or you can pay us something like $90 or $100 and get a 4S. Who am I to turn down free, especially when the only real selling points for the 4S seem to be Siri and Dictation, neither of which are all that appealing to me. So yeah, free 4!

I’ve had it for a few days now, but thanks to some less than ideal Swiss Chalet chicken making me play a fun game of find the can and a few other non-chicken-related things I’m not talking about here, I haven’t messed about with it as much as I’d hoped. But the figuring out and playing around I have done to this point has reinforced one of my very strongly held beliefs, that being that the person responsible for unleashing touchscreens upon the world can bite my ass…twice!

When other blind folks tell you that there can be a pretty steep learning curve when you first enter the touchscreen world, believe those people! They are not, I repeat, *not* screwing around! Maybe it’s me and in fact I’m pretty sure that me has quite a bit to do with it, but steep learning curve is actually being quite charitable. I’m beginning to get the hang of some of it…I think, but just when I think I’ve made a breakthrough, I have a setback that makes me want to throw the damned thing across the room and go back to using the garbage phone because at least when you do things you more often than not get the expected result. That, and it has buttons! Oh how I already profoundly miss my buttons.

Last night it took me nearly 10 minutes to send a text message that was one word long. I nearly lost it. by it I mean both my mind and the message. My mind I understand, but when all you’re doing is searching the screen for letters and suddenly you’re seeing stuff that’s supposed to be at the top of the screen when you’re near the bottom, I don’t get how the other is even possible. I sent another one word message this morning that took only 4 minutes, so I suppose that’s good progress. I was still ready to split the phone in half and set it on fire by the end, however. Opening a notes file and trying to write didn’t help take the pressure of composing something that needed to be seen by others off, because I still had the problem of icons showing up where letters were just seconds earlier. I also have what Carin and I think is a strange issue where I’ll move my finger up and down the screen to find things, but focus either won’t move, or it moves to the wrong place. For instance, if I want letters, I get buttons. If I want letters on a different row, I get the same letters I already have. If I want certain buttons, I get different ones. And all this happens even if I don’t move my hand to a different part of the screen. I either have strange hands or this phone is far too sensitive.

All this has taught me that, as many have said, touch typing on the screen is just out of the question. So Carin, being the kind fellow that she is, bought me a bluetooth keyboard while I was sleeping. I think that’ll help, especially at first. The less exposure to screen failure I have, the better off I’ll be. I get frustrated easily when I suddenly don’t understand or can’t do things like texting that used to make perfect sense, and when I get frustrated I have to put the phone down before I throw a murderin’ on it. and since I get frustrated even more easily than usual these days, there are more breaks than there should be if I’d ever like to get anywhere. I can’t wait to get my hands on this keyboard. It can’t ship here fast enough.

Another thing I don’t understand about these things is why phone has to be its own app. the fucking thing is an i*Phone*, so why isn’t the first thing you see when you open it the phone? I won’t bother going through how making a call is like another touch typing arcade game because that just goes without saying, but clicking phone to even get there is dumb. I should have to work to get other things, but the phone is just core technology, and the main purpose behind owning the thing in the first place.

And who builds a phone that drops your calls if you hold it like a phone? That’s seriously elementary shit right there. It’s like NASA scientists saying “hey, we figured out how to get men to the moon,” and then somebody saying “great, now how do we get them home,” and the scientist coming back with “we don’t know yet” and that being perfectly ok for most people. I hear a case should pretty much solve this, but come on now.

And while I’m ranting…perhaps this feeling fades with time, but I really don’t like the feel of this phone in my hand. I find it a bit awkward. Maybe that’s got more to do with me trying to hold it the right way so I can get the different gestures down or with my broken arm from years ago, but after a few minutes I find I have to stop and shake out my hand before I can go back to what I was doing.

I sound like such a rambling old technophobe of a man right now, don’t I? I think on some level I’m writing all of this down now so that when I fall in love with this phone and wonder how I ever lived without it, I can look back and laugh about how foolish I was. I hope that’s all this is. I don’t want to be stuck with a phone I hate until my next upgrade, especially since I know where the phone world is going. I realize that we’re headed for all touchscreens all the time, so I might as well suck it up and learn it now. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, and I certainly don’t at the moment.

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20 Comments

  1. I should point out that Carin has been a huge help. Through helping me out with what she knows based on having to play with these things at work and calming me down when I start getting pissed, she’s saved this phone’s life at least 27 times already.

  2. This too shall pass. I bet some of the issues you wrote about have been fixed already. What helped me the most at first was hearing other people do stuff on theirs. So just say the word and we can Skype.

  3. You’ll get it, in time, I’ve had mine for over a year, and you can still sometime’s here me threaten to let a ttc, or OCTranspo bus run it the bluddy hell over. I do know the basics, and am happy to help where I can. SO Please don’t hesitate to ask.

  4. Everybody’s been really great with help, which I’ve really appreciated. the biggest thing I need to do is stop getting so pissed at myself so quickly, but that’s always been a bit of a problem for me. With everybody else I’m a super laid back mellow guy, but I’m a fucking hardass when it comes to me at times. this is especially so when I feel like I should be able to do something more easily than reality is showing me I can. You get so used to just being able to do something like grab your phone and whip off a text or quickly call somebody that when you can’t, it’s ungodly off pissing. Plus I’m way more stressed out than usual, so the fuse is a lot shorter than normal.

  5. My other problem is that I feel like I’m working on a deadline. I’m taking off for a couple of days next week, and this thing is now my only phone. If I can’t use it, I’m screwed, or at least that’s how it feels. Grabbing Fleksy and a bluetooth keyboard should help there, I hope. Will at least make it possible to send texts and perhaps even emails should I get brave without running up a body count of innocent electronics and unfortunate miscellaneous objects.

  6. Hae, Steve, you you were saying about the buttons and the leters changing place, that’s cause you move the phone to a horizontal pos<ition, and and lets say that when you do that, all the screen moves.
    Hope this helped, and if you nead anymore help, just ask by twitter.

  7. SSo…I still hate this fucking phone, but after much yowling, I’ve convinced it that yes, it does want to let me lve a comment on my own damned website. I snagged a bluetooth keyboard from a really nice friend and it’s made things much easier, but this phone still makes me feel like a retard that regular retards look at and say boy, you’re retarded. I get so far, and then it just fucks with e for sport.

    I locked yhe orientation so it wouldn’t hange on me when I moved the phone, but thanks for that suggestion.

    Sorry for the typos. I’m having trouble with deleting. I alway take the wrong thing out or put the wrong thing in. Furstrating!

    I’ve tried to download Fleksy, but iTunes is having trouble or something and not letting me complee the install. Fail.

    1. I was doing it through the phone. But the app store said that because my ID hadn’t been used before, I needed to review a whole bunch of information. then it wouldn’t take it all wen I tried to put it in. Going to try again later when hopefully the errors have cleared up.

  8. I felt really bad when I had to tell you what was in my head. I’m standing there watching you want to throw things, and o so softly, I hear strains of “I’m on the zoloft, to keee-eeep, from killin’ ya’ll…” and as the realization set in why this lovely chorus was in my head, I had to laugh. Then apologize, and then tell you what song entered my head.

    Seriously dude, you’re rockin’ it. I still remember my driver from work listening to me vent about how much the touchscreen honked. I vented so much that someone else was talking to him, and he said, “yeah apparently iPhones work for blind people. I know someone who’s doing it right now.” the person asked him how I was doing, and he emphatically said “Not very well at all!” and that deleting thing is sooo counterintuitive. I have to keep reminding myself rotor up means you’re before a letter, rotor down means after.

    And don’t even get me started on how you schooled me on rotor workage. You got that the first bloody fucking night. Gugugugugug!

    Keyboards will rock your world, as will fleksi. I actually screeched when it was pulling words out of the air. Ruby jumped up in alarm and stared at me as if to say what got into you, girl? Whoever invented that rocks my world. Oh, my, god. Words…they fail me. Just…holy shit.

    1. Hahahaha. When you started singing it, I cackled. What could I do? A it was funny and B, yes, I seem totally ridiculous right now.

      The keyboard I got to borrow has helped to an unexplainable extent. It actually makes me want to use the screen more. Not for typing mind you, but I don’t mind the gestures as much since I know I won’t have to waste so much of my mental energy and sunny disposition points on figuring out how to get where I want to go, and then having to touch type when I get there. It takes so much of the frustration out of the picture that I might actually be able to learn the phone to a respectable degree some day.

      I’m doing much better with the gestures than I thought I would be at this point. I need to figure out what I’m doing to make aiming at certain areas of the screen completely go breaky smashy, but perhaps in time I’ll get it. It just makes no sense when I can go to the top of the screen and get the same stuff I just saw at the bottom.

      1. I’m glad you didn’t want to punch me. Ya know, everybody has a plan, and then they get punched in the mouth.

        And I cannot figure out what you’re doing to have bottom-ish things show up at the top. So, so confuzzled.

        1. “everybody has a plan, and then they get punched in the mouth.”

          Words to live life by, those are.

          I seriously don’t get the screen thing. I also get toppish things at the bottom. it goes both ways. I have no idea why these things happen, but they happen with quite a bit of regularity.

  9. You know what else is amazing about Fleksy? If you look up “excellent customer service” in the dictionary, they should be right there. There was a post on the AppleVis forum, a user having issues with Fleksy crashing and one of the developers came and commented on the forum post. You don’t even have to mention their at name on Twitter and they often come running. Amazing developers, amazing app. I use my iPhone so much more now thanks to Fleksy. Even non typing apps. Fleksy made me more confident on the phone period.

    1. That’s cool. They seem pretty awesome. They’ve been replying to my holy mother of god tweet, and that was cool.

      So how did fleksy help you become more confident in non-typing apps? Head go splatter.

  10. Steve said it when he said using that keyboard helps. There’s no stress of typing. So I don’t mind reading Twitter on my phone now, because if I want to reply, I’m not daunted anymore. Fleksy just takes that stress completely out of the experience so doing everything else can be focused on.

    1. Now that you mention Twitter, that’s another question I have. What’s good for Twitter on the iPhohne? Should I use the default Twitter for iPhone app or can I do better?

  11. I’m confused as well about this top is bottom bottom is top thing. Focus is going to be where you last touched. If you last touched the bottom, that’s where focus will be. Flicking then moves the focus. I’m just thinking out loud. Is this on just your home screen with all your apps or is this happening inside apps? Also, on the top is your status bar and you’ll get stuck in that. You have to touch to get out of it. And then on the very bottom is the doc, where you can make apps stick. I don’t think you can get stuck in that.

    How do you hold the phone? Describe to me how you hold it, what finger you’re using, etc.

    1. It happens to me everywhere. I’ll be doing something and Carin will say “what you’re looking for should be on the top left.” I’ll go there and either nothing will happen or I’ll get things from the wrong spot. Or maybe I’m flicking through things in a particular app and suddenly I’m stuck in the status bar, nowhere near what I was just doing.

      I hold the phone in my right hand, because it’s easier for me to flick and such with my left. I hold it at the sides, home button at the bottom. Thumb on one side, fingers supporting the other side. Sometimes it tilts a bit, but I’ve locked the orientation so that can’t be the problem. Oh, and as I type this I remember that sometimes the phone will end up kind of resting in my palm while in this position, so it kind of seems like my fingers are cradling it so it doesn’t fall out. I don’t think I do that much, but I need to keep an eye on myself.

  12. I started out just using the basic Twitter for iPhone app. I’ve since upgraded to Tweetlist Pro which wasn’t a free app. I adore it. It has a lot more options than the free app did, though that might have improved.

    The only thing I can think with your location issue is that some other part of a hand is accidentally touching the screen somewhere. I have no idea why else you’d be having that issue. It’s very odd.

    I don’t try locating anything. I’ve never been told anything is located in a certain area. I just get to know apps by flicking. Once I know something, I might go right to where something is on the screen, but you’re much better off just flicking left or right until you find what you want.

    Getting stuck in the status bar is common. Just tap once down lower to get away from it.

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