[BCAB] Google Nexus 7 Day 1 Initial Impressions

David Griffith d.griffith at btinternet.com
Fri May 30 00:32:58 BST 2014

Here are some very early impressions on exploring the Nexus 7.

I have  only used  and old Android Phone running Mobile Accessibility and
Gingerbread in the past, and to be honest my daughter fairly quickly
inherited this phone from me because of the frustrations I experienced in
the early Android systems.
Nevertheless the Nexus level of Accessibility on a tablet is clearly a step
up from what I experienced  on an old Phone. 

There is clearly a  huge learning curve ahead of me  so any impressions I
have now may be down to my current inadequate skill level but here goes.

A surprising problem was finding where the on off button  was on the device
and I could not find this out on any Google search but luckily  Jackie on
this list was able to help me.

A suggestion for the BCAB is that we should keep a basic stock of getting
started orientation instructions for the mainstream devices we use as a web
resource, A sighted person would not need to be told where the on off button
was but  this may not be obvious to us.

In theory holding the power button with 2 fingers on the screen during power
up should start Talkback. On my tablet at least the accessibility shortcut
did not work. I was, in any case, in  2 minds as to whether to try and set
up the device myself. Luckily about 10 minutes after I had failed to start
Talkback sighted help arrived.

He confirmed that I   would have found start up difficult as it was
instantly prompting for connection to wi-fi, over riding   the other start
up routines. 

I used sighted help to get wi-fi in and the device associated with my Gmail
account. I also got him to download Sendspace and Firefox. I did this as I
discovered that I could not access the Google Play store on the web until an
app had been downloaded from the store on the actual device. 
Finally I asked him to leave Talkback running in the start-up tutorial.
Touch Screen Interface 

In some ways Talkback is more similar to iOS and some of the swiping
gestures and double tapping will be more 

familiar to those used to an iOS interface. However the early impressions is
that you need a completely different touch strategy in terms of sensitivity
and strength of gesture.

In general I found that I had better success if I slowed up the speed, and
reduce the strength  of gestures that I routinely used on iOS.  The device
seems to respond poorly if I swipe or gesture with speed but responds better
if I gesture more slowly .  Jackie's advice about using a light touch also
seems to work well.  It seems especially important to use a slow light touch
if you are trying to identify elements using Explore by touch.  If I tried
to find things at my normal iOS speed I found I was missing elements of  the
screen. So slowly and lightly does it I think, but as I say it is early days
for me.

The main difficulty I experienced was in unlocking the screen. Ostensibly
the setup  is very similar to iOS in as much as you are prompted to slide
right to unlock the device. It took me a long time to actually achieve this
with  dozens  of rightwards swipes not achieving the desired result.

I am still not clear as to whether I have truly mastered this but I think
what you do is 
1. Press the on off button to start a prompt.
2. Swipe once to get a message to swipe right to unlock.
3. Swipe right again to get a message saying slide area.
4. This is where I  got stuck. The occasions I got it to work were when I
put my finger just to the left of the middle of the screen and very slowly
and deliberately swiped across to the extreme right edge of the screen.

Apart from speed and strength of touch the system is , In in some ways, is
similar to an iOS device with one important exception. Unlike on iOS you
cannot, I think, assume that swiping left or right will cycle you through
all the elements of a screen.  I am not entirely sure yet but I think the
way it works is that if you swipe through a menu you will cycle through that
menu but may not then  down the screen to further elements. I am still
trying to work this out so this is  a provisional finding for now.  So in
summary the Android system seems to be that you will perhaps cycle through
the elements of a section of a screen rather than necessarily the entire
What I think this means is that you have to rely much more on the concept of
Explore by Touch to ensure you build up an awareness of all the items on a
screen. Obviously as you become more familiar with applications you will
become aware of elements which you will not encounter by swiping and will
naturally just feel for the area in which these things are. For a beginner
though this needs to be highlighted I think as you may not be aware of all
the elements which are navigable with a screen.


I am glad I got sighted help in as I did not achieve much success with the
keyboard to begin with at least. The standard on screen keyboard is similar
to the iOS keyboard in touch typing mode. I am not a fan of this mode and
had not routinely used it on iOS. I will need therefore to develop my skills
in that respect. I suspect that I will routinely use a Bluetooth keyboard
with this device. I have purchased a Logitech 810 BT  keyboard and providing
I can get this paired will hopefully greatly smooth the interface with the
tablet for me personally.


On the Eyes Free list in the last few days there have been several
complaints about the responsiveness and performance of the Nexus 7. So far,
with very light usage I have not experienced difficulties which make the
device unusable. It does tend to go silent from time to time but then my 4th
Gen iPod was guilty of this as well, and even my iPhone goes into a silent
sulk from time to time.

Enough for day 1 I think.


David Griffith

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