Day 17: Testing a wireless keyboard

OK…As easily as the blog posts wrote themselves up until now, this one was really hard. In fact I went all day without a good idea about what this post would be about. I had some requests from comments, one being testing some more outside navigation, one other being testing Spotify for Android, and a third being the question how connected Bluetooth keyboards work nowadays.
The first request can be fulfilled, sort of. I am not a heavy Spotify user. In fact whenever I use the service, I end up just looking for a specific album by an artist and listening to that. Can do that on iTunes, too and just buy the album. ;) I never actually got into this random selection thing Spotify offers. But I’ll re-download the app in the coming days and give it a spin I think.
The second is definitely one still on my list, I was just kept from doing it until now by either bad weather or my schedule.
The third one was one I finally decided to tackle. I had to break out the Bluetooth keyboard I have from a shelf, where it was buried under several other items. The batteries had to be replaced, and then i was ready to go.
Pairing went without a hitch. Was asked to enter a PIN on the keyboard, and pairing was instant.
Also, I have the TalkBack 3.5.2Beta2 on my device, which has enhanced keyboard support. It allows to navigate by items similar to ChromeVox or VoiceOver on the Mac or iOS. You can also activate items and do some other stuff. And of course, there is the normal arrow key navigation within apps that have set proper next or previous focus items.
When navigating through lists, I immediately saw what Andross reported in a comment to my post about scrolling yesterday: When reaching the edge of the screen and it scrolls, one of several inconsistent things can happen. Either the same item gets repeated, nothing gets spoken, or some other seemingly radom item gets spoken in the meantime. It also seems to be dependent on the list or how it is being utilized. In Settings it works reasonably well, in Twitter and other apps it tends to fall over more often.
However, the real problem started when I tried to write my first test tweet. Every key I typed would be repeated over and over until I hit another key, which then would be repeated over and over. I was not holding them down, they were inserted automatically. After several minutes of experimentation, I found that the only way to get rid of this behavior was to shut down TalkBack completely, and then restart it with the keyboard still paired. This beta (don’t know about any other version) definitely doesn’t seem to take kindly to having a keyboard paired while it is running. Once TalkBack had been turned off, the keyboard started behaving normally in the edit field, which was confirmed by my wife. Also, after she restarted TalkBack for me, because the key stroke would not work, the keyboard continued to behave normally. Note, however, that this only showed itself once I started typing something in the text field. Cursor or item navigation before that were perfectly normal.
I was asked in a previous comment or tweet (sorry, don’t recall), if cursor keys would speak the letter or line being moved to. The sad answer is: Nothing gets spoken if navigating inside a text field using the arrow keys. Neither by character, nor by line. In essence, I had no control over where my cursor was once I started moving the arrows and not just type. This seems to have been an issue in TalkBack for some time, and is definitely still a problem in the current beta.
I also noticed several other oddities with the device as soon as the keyboard was paired. For one, I could no longer adjust the media playback volume through the phone’s rocker switch at the side. It would always give a bumping error sound and remain on the level that it was at. As soon as I unpaired the keyboard, things returned to normal.
Also, the screen sometimes acted funny when touched. TalkBack either didn’t react at all, or reacted with a delay and then caught up with all motions that happened in the 2 to 3 seconds before it unfroze. This also went away once the keyboard pairing was gone.
The fact that you cannot edit your text after you entered it using the paired keyboard, quite defeats the usefulness of having a keyboard paired. Yes, typing is faster, but this is pretty pointless if you have to go back to using the local context menu in TalkBack and switch granularity levels to character or word or whatever to control the cursor.
One more thing about the keyboard that acted up before TalkBack had been shut down and restarted: I did not observe this when I was using the braille keyboard the other day when experimenting with my Focus 14 blue. I had paired that without restarting TalkBack afterwards. So this definitely is localized to the combination of TalkBack running while a keyboard is being paired, and then using that in a ttttttttttttteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeexxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxtttttttttttttttttttttt         fffffffffffffffiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllllllllddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd………………………

Accessibility is for everyone @MarcoInEnglish