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Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Do I Make a Phone Call, Using a Dialer?

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 selecting a name in a contact manager or by entering a phone number into a dialing screen. This post is about using a phone number to place calls.

Users can "dial a number" in one of four ways. Three are accessible to Eyes-Free users. A fourth depends on the users’ ability to silence speech. A fifth, using Google Voice Search, does not appear to be accessible, though one user reports having success with the method.

Dialing with Android Search

The simplest way to make a call is to use the Search button from the stock Home or Recent Applications screen.

1. Go to the stock Home screen by long pressing (6 seconds) the Back button, or go to the Recent Applications screen by long pressing the Home button.
2. Press the Search button.
3. Type the phone number, using the top row of the physical keyboard. If your phone does not have a dedicated number row, press the alt or function key twice quickly before you begin typing.
4. Send the call.
a. Press Send if your phone has a dedicated Send key.
b. Down-arrow once to "Dial Using" followed by the phone number, and press enter if your phone does not have a dedicated Send key.
5. Wait for the phone to ring.

Dialing with the Phone App

The most obvious way to make a call is to use the phone app.

1. Go to the Phone app.
a. From the stock Home screen, long press (6 seconds) the Back button. Arrow to and press the selector on All Applications, then on Phone. It’s possible that Phone is one of the items on your launch screen. If so, simply arrow to and press the selector on Phone.
b. From the Eyes-Free Shell, down-stroke to Applications, type P, arrow down to Phone if necessary, and press enter.
2. Type the phone number, using the top row of the physical keyboard. If you do not have a dedicated number row, there is no need to press the alt or function key twice before typing.
3. Press enter.
4. Wait for the phone to ring.

Dialing 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 digits 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 the selector 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 says, "Voice Dialer," cover the speaker of your phone, 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 phone number 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 press Cancel and start the process over. The phone appears to go through a training period. The first 10 to 20 attempts produce inaccurate results. Over time, the results of voice dialing improve, but they definitely vary.
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 the selector 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 the selector on Voice Input and Output.
3. Arrow to and press the selector on Voice Recognizer Settings.
4. Arrow to and press the selector on "Language, Choose an Input Language."
5. Arrow through the list of options and press the selector 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.

Dialing with Talking Dialer

Talking Dialer is a free self-voicing app developed by the Eyes-Free Project and available through Android Market. It is 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 its dialing 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 soft buttons on the touch screen or physical controls.
2. Press the Home button to go to the stock Launcher; then arrow to and press the selector on All Applications first and Talking Dialer second.
3. Press the Menu button if necessary to enter Dialing mode.

Keying a Number with Talking Dialer

The Talking dialer is designed on the same principle as the eyes-Free Shell. Users touch the screen at any point, ideally in the general center. That point is the 5 on an imaginary telephone keypad. Then users slide their fingers diagonally, horizontally, or vertically to the relative location of each of the other keys on the phone, stopping when they hear the digit they wish to dial. Like the Shell and its Shortcuts menus, selection is made by breaking contact with the touch screen. Unlike the Shell and its menus, Talking Dialer has 12 keys, not 9, so users must also down-stroke to the star, zero, and number sign positions. Once users finish dialing the number, Send or Search is pressed to put the call through.

1. Place a finger in the general center of the touch screen.
2. Dial each number.
a. To Dial the 1, touch the screen; then up-stroke diagonally to the left; lift your finger when the phone announces, "1." The phone vibrates once when you touch the screen and a second time as you reach the 1 position.
b. To Dial the 2, touch the screen; then up-stroke vertically; lift your finger when the phone announces, "2." The phone vibrates once when you touch the screen and a second time as you reach the 2 position.
c. To Dial the 3, touch the screen; then up-stroke diagonally to the right; lift your finger when the phone announces, "3." The phone vibrates once when you touch the screen and a second time as you reach the 3 position.
d. To Dial the 4, touch the screen; then side-stroke horizontally to the left; lift your finger when the phone announces, "4." The phone vibrates once when you touch the screen and a second time as you reach the 4 position.
e. To Dial the 5, touch the screen; lift your finger when the phone announces, "5." The phone vibrates once when you touch the screen to signal you are in the 5 position.
f. To Dial the 6, touch the screen; then side-stroke horizontally to the right; lift your finger when the phone announces, "6." The phone vibrates once when you touch the screen and a second time as you reach the 6 position.
g. To Dial the 7, touch the screen; then down-stroke diagonally to the left; lift your finger when the phone announces, "7." The phone vibrates once when you touch the screen and a second time as you reach the 7 position.
h. To Dial the 8, touch the screen; then down-stroke vertically; lift your finger when the phone announces, "8." The phone vibrates once when you touch the screen and a second time as you reach the 8 position.
i. To Dial the 9, touch the screen; then down-stroke diagonally to the right; lift your finger when the phone announces, "9." The phone vibrates once when you touch the screen and a second time as you reach the 9 position.
j. To Dial the star, touch the screen; then down-stroke in a long diagonal to the left; lift your finger when the phone announces, "star." The phone vibrates once when you touch the screen and two more times as you go through the 7 and star positions. The diagonal is steeper than for the 7.
k. To Dial the 0, touch the screen; then down-stroke in a long vertical; lift your finger when the phone announces, "0." The phone vibrates once when you touch the screen and two more times as you go through the 8 and 0 positions.
l. To Dial the number sign, touch the screen; then down-stroke in a long diagonal to the right; lift your finger when the phone announces, "pound." The phone vibrates once when you touch the screen and two more times as you go through the 9 and number sign positions. The diagonal is steeper than for the 9.
3. When you finish dialing, do 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.
4. Talking dialer Announces: "You are about to dial," followed by the number. Press Send or Search a second time to confirm.

Deleting Misdialed Digits in Talking Dialer

It’s easy to misdial. Deleting numbers is even easier, and there are two ways to do it.

To delete misdialed digits, do one of the following:

1. Shake the phone.
a. To delete one digit, shake the phone twice from side to side.
b. To delete several digits, shake the phone from side to side 3 or 4 times.
2. Left-stroke to the backspace key.
a. Place your finger in the general center of the screen. Slide your finger horizontally to the left of the 1 or 4 until the phone announces, "Backspace." Lift your finger.
b. Repeat this process for each digit. Do not touch the edge of the screen, expecting to find the backspace key in the same position. Instead, start in the center (the 5 position) and long-stroke to the left.

Noting Keypad 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 dialing 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 dialing 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 moves focus to the Eyes-Free Shell, whether pressed for a short or long period of time.
b. Home works as expected. A short-press moves focus to the default home screen. 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+letter works as expected, opening the app assigned to the Android shortcut.

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 the selector 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:
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 one or the other 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).
3. 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 the selector. 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 the selector 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 the selector here moves focus to the standard dialing pad, which is not accessible.
2. End call—pressing the selector 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 the selector here lets users dial a second number on the typing keyboard for conference calling.
4. Speaker—pressing the selector here puts the device in speaker phone or hands-free mode.
5. Mute—pressing the selector here blocks sound from reaching the person being spoken to.
6. Blue Tooth—pressing the selector 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 the selector 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 the selector 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 the selector on "Current call" followed by the number.

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