[Here, I focus on your iPhone, but if your phone is Android or Samsung, read Voiceover as Talkback and Siri as Google, as in OK Google. For example, say, “OK Google, how do I … with Talkback?”]
There are a few things those of us who can’t see can do with our iPhones that are rather boring but necessary. I’m going to spend this episode of Blind How looking at them, but it would be more fun checking out ways we can use our phones to get people who can see to help us whenever we need someone who can see to give us a couple of minutes to just look at something for us. I’ll get to those options in the next episode, but for now, let’s get to the more boring stuff.
Yes, we can make and receive phone calls on our iPhones. Let’s start with the simple way. Just say, “Hey Siri, call 555-555-5555.” Of course, use the actual number you want to call instead of all of those 5’s. From there, it’s like any phone call: the phone rings and someone answers, if there is someone there to answer the phone. For now, always include the area code when voicing the number.
If our phone is ringing, simply tap twice quickly with two fingers anywhere on the screen. It’s called a two-finger double tap, or “magic tap.” Wait a second or so and then say, “Hello.”
(I’m assuming that you always keep Voiceover turned on.)
You can also flick around until you find the “Answer” button and then double tap with one finger anywhere on the screen. But why would you, when you can just use the magic tap?
If you would rather dial the number, you can also do that. Flick around until you find the Phone icon on your phone’s screen. It may be on the bottom row of icons. Once Voiceover says “Phone,” do a one-finger double tap anywhere on the screen. The Phone app will open.
At the bottom of the screen, find Keypad, and double tap.
(I’ll just say double tap when you should tap twice quickly with one finger.)
The keypad is much like the keypad on a regular telephone. Touch toward the top of the screen, and then flick right until Voiceover says the first number. Now double tap. The first number makes a sound, and you are ready for the second number. Flick left or right to find the second number and double tap. Repeat the steps until you have added all 10 numbers in the phone number. Finally, find the “Call” icon and double tap.
(You start with the area code. Starting with a 1 like with a regular phone is not needed.)
That will get you started making and receiving calls. Even so, this is a good time to use your search skills that we considered earlier on Blind How. Start with asking Siri. Say, “Hey Siri, How do I use the phone app with Voiceover?” Siri will tell you that this is what I found on the web. Explore the screen with one finger or swipe down from the top with two fingers. Touch the screen with two fingers to get Siri to stop talking.
When you hear something that sounds interesting, double tap. Siri will open Safari where the information is. Swipe down from the top with two fingers to get Voiceover to read the web page.
(Hint: You can also ask Siri, “Hey Siri, how do I use Safari with Voiceover?”
You can also send and receive text messages with your iPhone. You do this in the Messages app. Open the Messages app and check it out. Once the app is open, swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen. This will let you know what’s there. For now, you will need the phone number of anyone you want to message.
(To practice, you can send a message to yourself, using your phone number.)
Sure, you can also say, “Hey Siri, how do I use the Messages app with Voiceover?”
You also can say, “Hey Siri, how do I type using Voiceover?” For now though, you just find the letter or character you want to enter and then double tap. Nothing goes in until you double-tap. Since you are sending the message to yourself for practice, you don’t need to be concerned about typing errors.
You can send and receive e-mail too. That is done with the Mail app. Find the icon and check it out. Unfortunately, you also need to provide your e-mail information such as the provider, your username and password and such. That is done through the Settings icon on your phone. If you are up to an adventure, double tap on the Settings icon, and then find “Mail” down the list. Double tap on that icon, and then find Accounts. Double tap on that icon, and have at it. If you are patient and know the information that is needed, I’ll bet you can figure out how to register your email account. After that, you need only open the Mail app on your phone’s main screen. The app will automatically check to see if you have any new e-mail. If so, the new e-mails will show up in a list on the screen.
If all has gone well, you can now send and receive phone calls, text messages and maybe even e-mails. If not, keep practicing and keep asking Siri how to do what you want to do using Voiceover.
Let me leave you with one easily overlooked fact. If you want someone who can see to do something for you on your iPhone, turn off Voiceover before you hand them your phone. It’s a quick triple-tap on the home button if there is one, and if not, a quick triple-tap on the power button toward the top on the right side of the phone. When you get your phone back, you turn Voiceover back on the same way. The issue is that your phone does not work the way people can see are used to its working, when Voiceover is turned on.
There you go. You now have three ways to communicate: phone calls, text messages
(Very much the same as iMessages, but don’t worry about the differences for now.)
, and e-mail, if you have gotten it set up. You are making really good progress.