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Thursday, September 30, 2010

How do I make a call from contacts?

Smart phones are such sophisticated devices that it isn’t unusual for users to need help learning to make calls. Calls can be made by entering a phone number into a dialing screen or by selecting a name in a contact manager. This post is about placing calls from a contact manager.

Users can access their contacts to initiate calls in one of 4 ways. They can use Android Search, Voice Dialer, the stock Contacts app, or the Talking dialer Phone Book. All of these methods are accessible, except for Voice Dialer, which depends on the user’s ability to silence the screen reader.

Calling a Contact with Android Search

The easiest way to find anything on an Android phone, including Contacts, is by using the device’s Search feature from the stock Home or Recent Applications screen.

1. Go to the stock Home screen by long pressing the Back button.
2. Type the first two or three letters of the contact’s first or last name. It is not necessary to press the Search button before typing or d-pad OK afterward. The phone vibrates to signal that the search is complete.
3. Down-arrow repeatedly to scroll through the options, and press d-pad OK when you hear the Contact’s name followed by his or her phone number.
4. The Contacts app opens and focus is on the name selected or on a checkbox for adding the name to Favorites. Arrow to the name if necessary, and press d-pad OK.
5. Wait for the phone to ring.

Calling a Contact with the Contacts App

The most obvious way to call a contact is by using the stock Contacts app.

1. Go to the stock Contacts app by doing one of the following:
a. On the stock Home/Launch screen, arrow to and press d-pad OK on All Applications; then arrow to Contacts and activate it by pressing OK on the d-pad.
b. From the Eyes-Free shell, down-stroke to Applications on the touch screen; then using the typing keyboard, type the letter C, arrow down to Contacts if necessary, and press enter.
2. Find your contact. When contacts opens, focus is either on the primary Contacts list or on the shorter list of Favorites. Which of the two or where in either list depends on how long ago the app was used and where focus was at the end of the previous session. At this point, you can arrow either side to side or up and down. Arrowing side to side moves focus through a list of apps: Phone (the stock phone app), Call Log (a list of recent calls), Contacts (a list of names with phone numbers and/or email addresses), and Favorites (the Contacts used most often). To enter any of these apps, scroll down from the name. Arrowing up and down, rather than side to side, moves focus through the list of Contacts or Favorites. Once you move down, you can not move side to side without first pressing alt+up-arrow, then pressing up-arrow alone. To actually find your Contact, do one of the following:
a. Arrow left or right once or press d-pad OK on the current list to enter either Contacts or Favorites; then arrow down or up to find the specific Contact.
b. Type the first 1 to 3 letters of the Contact’s first or last name; then arrow down through the results list. . It is not necessary to press Search before typing or d-pad OK afterward. If you do not find your Contact, press Back once, and try another search string. Note: typing "co" as a search string produces results like Connie Hales, Mike Cole, and Bookworm@comcast.net.
3. Press d-pad OK on your Contact.
4. Arrow through the list of available calling options and press d-pad OK on the correct item. Options are Mobile, Home, work, and Email, or as many of these as are available.
5. Wait for the phone to ring.

Calling a Contact with Voice Dialer

Android phones include a built-in voice-dialer. It can not be used as is because the phone picks up the screen reader before it picks up the user’s voice, so the dialer consistently misinterprets the first few syllables of the number being spoken. Some users report success when they cover the phone’s speaker or interrupt speech with the proximity sensor immediately after opening the app; others report no success.

1. Go to Voice Dialer.
a. From the stock Home screen, arrow to and press d-pad OK on All Applications, then Voice Dialer.
b. From the Eyes-Free Shell, down-stroke to Applications; then type the letter V, arrow down to Voice Dialer, and press enter, or use stroke dialing, which is described in a future post.
2. The phone vibrates as the app opens. Then it beeps as Talkback announces, "Voice Dialer." Your goal is to prevent the screen reader from saying the name of the app, so after the phone vibrates, but before Talkback speaks, cover the device speaker, or wave a finger over the proximity sensor, which is located near the lower left-hand corner of the screen (landscape orientation). Remember that, for the proximity sensor to silence speech, the appropriate setting must be made in Accessibility Preferences.
3. After the beep, say the name of the contact you wish to call, speaking at a moderate conversational rate, without pauses. The phone emits 2 sharp beeps and announces a result.
4. Send the call.
a. If the result is correct, press enter.
b. If the result is incorrect, arrow through the available options, and press enter on the appropriate item or Cancel and start the process over. The phone appears to go through a training period. The first 10 to 20 attempts produce especially inaccurate results. Over time, the results of contact voice searches improve, but they’re never as accurate as voice dialing. A search for "Brother" yielded "open browser," on first attempt and "call Brother on second." Multiple searches for a contact with an unusual name never produced a match.
5. Wait for the phone to ring.

Changing the Input Language for Voice Dialer

For best results, make sure your voice input setting is correct. To check and adjust the input language in Android 2.2, do the following:

1. Go to Settings.
a. From the stock Launcher, press Menu, then arrow to and press d-pad OK on Settings.
b. From the Eyes-Free Shell, down-stroke to Applications, type the letter S, arrow down to Settings if necessary, and press enter.
2. Arrow to and press d-pad OK on Voice Input and Output.
3. Arrow to and press d-pad OK on Voice Recognizer Settings.
4. Arrow to and press d-pad OK on "Language, Choose an Input Language."
5. Arrow through the list of options and press d-pad OK on your preferred language. Choices include American, Australian, British, Canadian, generic, Indian, and New Zeeland English as well as other languages.
6. Return to the Home screen by pressing the Back button several times or pressing Home once.

Calling a Contact with Talking Dialer

Talking Dialer is a free self-voicing app developed by the Eyes-Free Project and available through Android Market. It is normally accessed through the Eyes-Free Shell and enables users to dial phone numbers and contacts from the touch screen. The next few sections in this post cover use of its Phonebook feature.

Opening the Talking Dialer

Users can access the Talking dialer either from the Eyes-Free Shell or from the All Applications screen of the stock Launcher.

To enter the Talking dialer, do one of the following:

1. Press the Home button to go to the eyes-Free Shell; then press the Search button to open the Talking Dialer. Home and Search may be a soft button on the touch screen or a physical control.
2. Press the Home button to go to the stock Launcher; then arrow to and press d-pad OK on All Applications first and Talking Dialer second.
3. Press Search if necessary to enter Phonebook mode.

Noting Screen Orientation and Keyboard Behavior While in the Talking Dialer

1. When the phone is closed (i.e., the keyboard is tucked under the touch screen), the soft keypad is used with the phone in portrait orientation. When the phone is open (i.e., the physical keyboard is available to the user), the keypad is oriented to landscape.
2. While the eyes-Free shell, the Eyes-Free shortcuts, and the Talking Dialer screens are up, the physical controls on the keyboard do not behave in the usual way. Most physical controls are unresponsive while in the Shell and Shortcuts, and in Dialer, arrow keys are unresponsive and different characters are assigned to the typing keys.
a. Back works as expected. A short press moves focus to the previous screen. A long press moves focus to the stock Home screen.
b. Home works as expected. A short press moves focus to the Eyes-Free shell. A long press moves focus to the Recent Applications screen.
c. Both Menu and Search toggle between Dialing Mode and Phonebook in the Talking Dialer.
d. Search+double letter works as expected, opening the app assigned to the Android shortcut.

Finding a Contact with Talking Dialer Phonebook

The Talking Dialer Phonebook offers 2 methods for finding contacts from the touch screen. In this blog they’re referred to as the line method and the circle method. The former is best for scrolling through short lists or parts of longer lists. The latter is best for searching through long lists. Both of these methods are also available for searching through the Applications list of the Eyes-Free Shell.

Using the Stroke dialer: Line Method

This method allows users to scroll through individual items. It’s best for short lists or parts of long lists.

1. Place a finger on the touch screen. The phone emits a short vibrational burst. Keep this finger on the screen at all time.
2. Using a different finger, draw an imaginary vertical line. For best results, draw a long line (2 inches or 5 cm), and lift the drawing finger after each stroke. The phone emits two vibrational bursts, one as each line begins, another as the finger is lifted. The contact name and contact option is announced after the finger is lifted (e.g., Brother, cell).
3. Repeat Step 2 until you find the desired Contact; then remove the other finger from the screen
4. Send the call by doing one of the following:
a. Press Send if your phone has a Send button.
b. Press the Search button if your phone does not have a Send button.
5. Talking dialer Announces: "You are about to dial," followed by the name of the Contact and the contact option. Do one of the following:
a. Press Send or Search a second time to confirm.
b. Shake the phone to return to the contact list without dialing.
6. Wait for the phone to ring.

Using the Stroke Dialer: circle Method

This method allows users to jump to specific parts of long lists from the touch screen. To narrow the search, the line method is used.

The circle method of stroke dialing involves a lengthy explanation and some practice, but once users "get it," it’s fluid and efficient. It uses the same relative positioning of the Eyes-Free Shell and of the Talking dialer, but not the same grid organization.

Following are two explanations. The first is in general terms. The second is more specific.

Explaining the Circle Method in General

1. Imagine a wheel with 8 spokes or a round cake cut into 8 slices. The image is a circle that is divided into 8 parts by a vertical line, a horizontal line, a diagonal line that slopes down to the right, and a diagonal line that slopes down to the left. All of the lines cross in the exact center of the circle, and all of the pieces of the cake are the same size.
2. Place your finger in the general center of the touch screen. This is the center of the circle, where all of the spokes meet.
3. Slide your finger along one of the spokes. Pause the movement of your finger. The phone announces a letter.
4. Draw the circle. As you move around the circle, the phone vibrates periodically and announces more letters.
5. Lift your finger when you reach the desired letter.

It’s important to keep the image of the circle in mind because
• each spoke provides a different starting letter and
• visualizing the way each spoke stretches all the way across the circle helps make sense of the arrangement of the starting letters.

Explaining the Circle Method with specifics

1. Place your finger in the general center of the touch screen. This is the spot where all the spokes of the circle meet.
2. Draw a spoke and enough of the circle to find the desired letter
a. For letters A through H, slide your finger up and to the left (the 1 position on a number pad). Pause. The phone announces, "A." Then move your finger clockwise in a circle. As you do, the phone announces, "B, C, D," and so on to the letter H.
i. To move backward through the letters, draw the circle counterclockwise.
ii. To start halfway through the circle (at the letter E), draw the part of the spoke that is down and to the right (the 9 position on a number pad), and move clockwise or counterclockwise from there.
b. For letters I through P, slide your finger up (the 2 position on a number pad). Pause. The phone announces, "I." Then move your finger clockwise in a circle. As you do, the phone announces, "J, K, L," and so on to the letter P.
i. To move backward through the letters, draw the circle counterclockwise.
ii. To start halfway through the circle (at the letter M), draw the part of the spoke that is down (the 8 position on a number pad), and move clockwise or counterclockwise from there.
c. For letters Q through X, slide your finger up and to the right (the 3 position on a number pad). Pause. The phone announces, "Q." Then move your finger clockwise in a circle. As you do, the phone announces, "R, S, T," and so on to the letter X.
i. To move backward through the letters, draw the circle counterclockwise.
ii. To start halfway through the circle (at the letter U), draw the part of the spoke that is down and to the left (the 7 position on a number pad), and move clockwise or counterclockwise from there.
d. For letters Y and Z and 6 additional characters (question mark, period, backspace, comma, exclamation point, space), slide your finger to the right (the 6 position on a number pad). Pause. The phone announces, "y." Then move your finger clockwise in a circle. As you do, the phone announces, "Z, question mark, period," and so on to the space character.
i. To move backward through the letters, draw the circle counterclockwise.
ii. To start halfway through the circle (at the backspace character), draw the part of the spoke that is to the left (the 4 position on a number pad), and move clockwise or counterclockwise from there.
e.
3. Lift your finger to select that letter.
4. Repeats Steps 2 and 3 one or two more times to write more of the word (optional).
5. Press the Search button to call up a list of Contacts whose first or last names begin with the letter(s).
a. If only one result matches the search string, Phonebook announces, "You are about to dial," followed by the name of the contact. Press Search again to call, or shake the phone once or twice to cancel.
b. If two or more items match your search string, use the line method to select from the results list, touching the screen with one finger, using another to swipe vertically, and tapping the Search button twice when the correct name and contact method is announced.
6. Wait for the phone to ring.

To help learn the circle method of stroke dialing:
• Make the spokes short (1 inch or 2.5 cm or less); otherwise, the circle doesn’t fit on the touch screen.
• Return to the outline of the circle by moving your finger in a scrubbing motion as you draw. While the circle doesn’t have to be perfectly round, it does have to be more or less circular. Many users’ first attempts are more egg or pear shaped. The scrubbing motion helps users find the next letter.

Making a call

Making Calls

Speaking on an Android phone can be more adventurous than speaking on any other. First, the touch screen is a contrary companion. On the one hand, it’s so sensitive that users often inadvertently press soft buttons while speaking on the phone. On the other, it locks unexpectedly when users want access to other apps. Then for users running Android 2.1 and earlier without a dedicated end key, hanging up can be inconvenient.

1. Once the number has been dialed, send the call, as described above. To summarize:
a. If your phone has a dedicated Send button, press Send.
b. If your phone does not have a dedicated Send button, do the following:
i. Press enter if you make the call with Android Search or the Phone app.
ii. Press d-pad OK if you make the call with Voice Search.
iii. Press Search if you make the call with Talking dialer.
2. While on the phone, keep in mind that the touch screen is very sensitive. The best way to avoid mishaps is to use apps like Quick Lock and Lock Now Free to freeze the screen during calls. Other alternatives are to do the following:
3.
a. Avoid touching even the edges of the screen; otherwise, you may activate buttons accidentally. Some users have had great success using earphones.
b. Hold both the phone and your head still. Moving either from side to side keeps the screen on and makes it responsive to touch.
c. Keep the proximity sensor (upper left-hand corner while in portrait orientation) close to your face; otherwise, you press buttons with your chin or cheek. This means that it’s not a good idea to hold the phone with your shoulder while rummaging for something to write with. Touching the proximity sensor to put the phone down or pick it up doesn’t always freeze the screen either.
d. Unlock the screen, if you need to, by first sliding the keyboard out or scrolling the trackball, then swiping in the unlock gesture. Interestingly, freezing the screen with the proximity sensor seems to pause the lock delay. In other words, if the lock delay is 1 minute and the proximity sensor is tripped after 10 seconds, the screen locks 50 seconds after the proximity sensor has been "released." The delay is also interrupted when the phone is shaken.
e. Use the typing keyboard to respond to menu prompts during calls to automated customer service lines (as when calling the bank to check the account balance).
4. End the call when you are done, using one of the following:
a. Press End if you have a dedicated End button.
b. Press Power if you are running Android 2.2 or later and have no dedicated End Button. Remember to set this option in Accessibility Preferences.
c. Press End Call on the In-Call screen if you are running Android 2.1 or earlier and have no dedicated end button, using one of these methods:
i. Using the physical keyboard, move focus to the in-call screen, arrow to End Call, and press d-pad OK. This process can be challenging because of an unfortunate series of events. The phone is moved away from the face to access the arrow keys. The proximity sensor stops preventing the screen from responding to movement or touch, but the face can not be moved out of range of the screen’s sensors because Talkback volume is low. The result is that soft buttons are activated and focus moves away from the desired screen, often requiring more than one attempt.
ii. On the touch screen, tap the End call soft button, which is about halfway across the imaginary horizontal line that unlocks the screen. Practice locating this button by calling your landline or a friend and hanging up before the call goes to voicemail.

Exiting the Call Log

At the end of each call, focus moves to the call log, a list of incoming and outgoing calls. Three options are available to users.

1. Return to the Home screen by pressing Back or Home, or move directly into another application with an Android shortcut.
2. Review the Call Log by arrowing up and down through the list of incoming and outgoing calls; then return to the Home screen by pressing Back or Home.
3. Perform other actions by arrowing to and pressing d-pad OK on any of the entries in the Call Log. Doing so moves focus to a Details screen, which offers the 3 following choices:
a. Call again.
b. Send a text message.
c. Add to Contacts.

Using the In-Call Screen

While a call is in progress, certain options are available to users through the in-call screen, which can be accessed via the arrow keys. Its contents are described here since Eyes-Free users aren’t always aware of this screen early in their Android experience, but knowing what’s available and how to find it can be very handy.

Getting to Know the In-Call Screen

During a call, the In-Call screen can be reviewed by sliding out the keyboard and arrowing over the 6 options, which are arranged in 2 columns and 3 rows. Volume level is very low, consistent with the sound level set for the phone call, so the handset must be held close to the user’s face, which is likely to open another app, shifting focus to another screen. The available items on the In-Call screen are as follows:

1. Dial pad—pressing d-pad OK here moves focus to the standard dialing pad, which is not accessible.
2. End call—pressing d-pad OK here hangs up. If no other option has been selected during the current call, focus tends to move to this option.
3. Add call—pressing d-pad OK here lets users dial a second number on the typing keyboard for conference calling.
4. Speaker—pressing d-pad OK here puts the device in speaker phone or hands-free mode.
5. Mute—pressing d-pad OK here blocks sound from reaching the person being spoken to.
6. Blue Tooth—pressing d-pad OK here connects the Blue Tooth headset that has already been paired with the device.

Returning to the In-Call Screen

If another app has focus, users can return to the in-call screen in one of two ways:

1. Use the Arrow keys.
a. Go to the Phone screen by doing one of the following or by setting up an Android shortcut to Phone, a topic covered in a future post.
i. Long-press the Back button to return to the stock Home screen, arrow to and press d-pad OK on All Applications, then on Phone.
ii. Press Home to return to the Eyes-Free Shell; then down-stroke to Applications, type P, arrow to Phone if necessary, and press enter.
b. When the app opens, Talkback announces, "Phone." Arrow to and press d-pad OK on Return to Call in Progress.
2. Use the Status bar on the touch screen.
a. Slide the keyboard out.
b. Place a finger on the upper edge of the screen and slide it all the way down to the bottom, stopping when you hear, "Status Bar."
c. Down arrow to and press d-pad OK on "Current call" followed by the number.

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