Android versus iOS: stability versus Features

So, boiling my feelings on iOS versus Android down into a simpler post, as of now, iOS = features, Android = stable and seemingly more supportive of all the PWA apps that are zipped up and put on the app stores. Apple makes me feel like Squidward when I’m typing in Braille, pressing Space with dots 4-5 to translate, one… word… at… a… time! All that just to clear the translation queue or whatever when it gets stuck or whatever. And that’s where the crap comes in. On iOS, I have no idea what’s causing these types of anger-inducing issues. Oh and the bug where if you press Enter in, say, iMessage to send a message, except a menu pops up, is still there. That bug was supposed to be fixed in the latest iOS 16.2 update. But nope. I guess VoiceOver has lived long enough to be a mess. A sluggish, frustrating mess that no amount of image and screen recognition can fix.

Meanwhile, on Android, while Braille doesn’t have nearly the amount of features, it at least doesn’t have the bugs that exist on iOS. The translation system is about as good as JAWS. It doesn’t slow down, it doesn’t get stuck needing to be practically plunged like iOS, and the only issue is that when typing a colon then a right parenthesis, it doesn’t make the smiley face, but does something like conar or con) instead. So much for UEB making Braille better for computers to prosses. I think that will get much better with a Liblouis update, though.

Now, for the part about web apps, or something similar to Electron. With the Evidation app, on iOS, you get a lot of tasks, like how you’re feeling today, or health questions, out of order. So you hear one thing, then the second, then actions for the first then, and so on. I don’t doubt that this is an accessibility issue on Evidation’s part. But if Android can get this right, even when using a Braille display, Apple can get this right as well. Besides, TalkBack is the open source app, right? Apple can even learn from it. Imagine that. I mean, I know most blind people don’t care too much about all this. Most people love their iPhones and Apple Watches and AirPods. And I respect that. They are, after all, great devices with much vendor lock-in. But as bugs pile up, as garbage begins to stink, as dishes bring some flies around, more and more people are going to Android. Like, it’s already happening. Sure, it’s not a lot, but it’s growing, 1% a year I’d guess, at the least. And then they see that TalkBack has a tutorial, for getting started, and it talks about this Braille onscreen Keyboard, using a Braille display, icon descriptions, which I might add, are quite a bit more helpful than VoiceOver’s because VoiceOver is focused on the image, and has so much data and can’t really seem to zoom in and tell that that’s just an icon.

And Google isn’t slowing down either. I read a week or so ago that Google is opening an accessibility office in London I think. Somewhere in the UK I know. I’m not sure if that’s just going to be a place where Trusted Testers can go and test things, or if there will be more to it, but that, to me, shows that they’re done napping like they were since Android 5 to 10. And I’m here for it. Yes, Google has a ton of catching up to do. But I think we’ll see them put their own spin on catching up, like describing icons first, having tools that do one thing well, but linking them all together, like Linux, rather than having VoiceOver do everything as Apple does. So, during this Christmas, I’ve gone to live with family for a while, leaving my iPhone. I don’t feel like I’ll need it for a while. And maybe, with SoundScape being slated for decommitioning, I won’t have much more of a reason to go back to the iPhone. I just have to find good headphones and a good watch for Android and I’m good. It already works with my PC and ChromeBook, much better than the iPhone works with the Mac, so I just have to get good accessories.

Devin Prater @devinprater