Fleksy aims to make iOS usable for the visually impaired

Accessibility is a big deal on the internet. Everything must be streamlined and made easier so more people can use it. The days of typing commands into the command line to perform basic tasks are long gone, and now the goal is to make everything as easy as possible. The learning curve needs to be removed, and this is especially true with smartphones. Feature phones are becoming less and less common, particularly in the western world where people are more receptive to paying large amounts of money for a new phone. Apple's iPhone might be one of the easiest smartphones to learn, short of the Docomo Raku Raku, which is an Android 4.0 device built for the elderly.

The main difficulty of typing on a smartphone is the flat nature of the keys. How do you know what each key says when there's no shape to help you feel your way around? With older phones that had physical keypads you could move your finger around and get an idea of where the key was. Using deduction you could then determine what key you needed to push and how many times you needed to push it to get the result you wanted. The same cannot be said about smartphones, because the screen doesn't have physical feedback to make it clear. Therefore, this is a niche which needs to be filled.

Enter Fleksy. It's a patent-pending keyboard designed for the blind or visually impaired, with the goal of making text input on a smartphone a lot easier. It isn't a full keyboard replacement in that you can use it inside other apps, but you can use it to create text and then copy and paste it into your desired application or send SMS/email. How it works isn't entirely clear but the introductory video does help to show what it looks like and what it does. It seems to hook in with the voice assistant built into iOS, but it's not entirely clear how it will aid text input unless it has a massively ramped-up auto correct similar to SwiftKey's if not better.

The app has been in development for a while now, and is currently awaiting approval from Apple for the App Store. It may never get deeper than the App Store though, since other issues would arise from trying to make it fit into more of the operating system. iOS is sometimes criticised for being too closed, but it does have its own benefits. Apple may reject the app based on how deeply it would need to be integrated into the operating system in the future to ensure complete compatibility with everything. As the world progresses to smartphones on all portable devices the issue will only become more apparent, so the Fleksy developer has to be praised for having the initiative to create a potential solution.

Source: The Next Web

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Twitter apologizes for outage, blames bug in latest release [Update]

Next Story

Kim Dotcom gets a visit from Woz

8 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

That's great, interesting if it can baked into the OS, that would be remarkable for the visually impaired, might not happen thou

Think I must be missing something here.. looks just like a text to speech app? if you cant actually see the keys on the screen how are you actually going to know where they are or what you are pressing...

100 bucks say that they will get some MASSIVE display in Apple events/ads/publications.
We all know how keen they are on stressing the excellent accessibility of iOS and app developers who work in these fields for iOS.

Remember the WWDC keynote video where they showed a guy walking in the forest alone and finding his way around with a routing app for blind pedestrians?
That guy and the forest are from my city, I was pretty stunned to see my ("small") city of 200k inhabitants get such attention (this city barely ever gets any on a supranational scale, so yeah... )

That's apart from the documenta taking place at the moment here, so yes, every 5 years we get MASSIVE attention and suddenly the tram and bus speakers announce the next major stop in English, too - wohoo!

GS:mac

Apple's pretty big on accessibility, so if it really works out well, they could add it to the OS proper. On the other hand, they may see Dictation as the answer to that.

THolman said,
Apple's pretty big on accessibility, so if it really works out well, they could add it to the OS proper. On the other hand, they may see Dictation as the answer to that.

Very cool, but you're right, dictation is way easier.