Android or iOS for blind or low vision users?

by Jeffrey Stark

January 28th, 2014

I often get asked, Android or iOS?  I believe it's a choice that requires one to list out the tasks and features you want, look at the devices on the market and make your decision objectively from those elements.


I have access to both platforms iOS and android.   I spent a year using iOS as my primary phone in order to learn and understand it.  It's a great polished solution.  However, when I was buying my personal phone I went android.  Up until Jellybean (the latest version of android), I was in agreement that iOS was significantly better.  Android names their operating systems after desserts and Jellybean has been out in the market for a year or two now.  When it was released, it was a game changer.  In most ways, android offers a fantastic experience for a blind user looking for an accessible smartphone.    What I would say now is that Android has some features that are significantly superior to iOS (i.e. navigation from screen to screen both back and forth, native TTS support, 3rd party input methods that are available anywhere, high contrast black support and a number of others) and iOS has some areas where it excells more than android (i.e. text editing).  I like the fact that there are so many different android form factors, shapes, sizes and keyboards.  With Nearby Explorer, swipe as an input method, and firefox…  I haven't found much I couldn't do.  I use the volume rocker cursor control for text editing and it works fine.

My own personal oppinion is that iOS is easier to learn and android is more powerful.  iOS is slightly better for someone with no sight for certain tasks and Android far excels for low vision users (especially those that use their sight for orientation of screens).

I celebrate the fact that we have 2 alternatives now.  I look forward to seeing how they will compete with each other.

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