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review of the not-so-new-anymore iphone 4s

This post is long overdue. I’ve had my iPhone 4S for several months now but wanted to be using it for a while before I wrote about it. So far, I love the 4S and Siri. Sure, sometimes Siri doesn’t understand a damn thing I’m saying or asking, but I expect her, like George Clooney or Sean Connery, to get even better over time.

The main upgrade with the 4S is obviously Siri who allows you to orate almost all of the things you’d do on your phone from texting to dialing to setting alarms and reminders. And if you find yourself one day without friends, Siri will even carry on a [limited] conversation with you. Siri allows you to dictate your text messages or emails—just remember to say the punctuation mark when you want to insert it. (I.e. Say “Hello comma how are you question mark” to type “Hello, how are you?” For the longest time, I could not figure this out, and all my sentences were run-ons.)

The downside to Siri is once you become wholly dependent on her, she could get glitchy If everyone on the server is trying to use their Siri. (She’s not known for monogamy after all.) But lately, I haven’t noticed this as much as when I first got the 4S and everyone and their mama were trying to talk to Siri, make Siri do this, make Siri do that.

The other thing I miss about the older iPhone models is the curvature of the phone’s body. It seemed less bulky and more ergonomic in your hand.

But that’s something I’m willing to sacrifice for these cool new features:

  1. iMessaging

    IMessage allows you to instant message other friends who have the iPhone with the updated IOS. This is used in lieu of text messaging so now you can save on texts if you don’t have the unlimited texting plan. The bad part is you can see when your “buddy is typing” which means your buddy can see you which means he will kind of know if you’re there and deciding to ignore his text after typing a few words..

  2. Hourly weather forecast

    Now you can click on the day’s forecast in the weather app and see the entire day’s weather forecast hour-by-hour. I find this helpful in figuring out if rain will fall in the morning, afternoon, evening, or all day.
  3. Easily accessible notifications

    The 4S provides an easy way to see all the latest notifications in your apps. By swiping downward from the top of the screen with three fingers, you can see which calls you’ve missed, which text messages haven’t been acknowledge, upcoming appointments and events, who posted new items to your Facebook, when it’s your turn in a game, etc. THis makes it convenient to keep up-to-date with all your goings-on on your iPhone.

The 4S also allows you to view your calendar in landscape view though this is less important for VI users. (I prefer my calendar in list view anyway.)

WHile the 4S has moved the smart phone industry forward, there are still some improvements I’d like to see happen with the next generation iPhone:

  1. Accessible way to rearrange and delete apps

    As it stands, I have to procure help in rearranging and deleting apps and icons on my iPhone. VO does not allow a way to make your app icon start jiggling and what not. It would be nice if there was a way for VO to help with moving around or deleting apps. Perhaps this is something Siri could do in the future? How nice would it be if I could just say “Delete this sorry app” and have Siri take care of it?
  2. Photo labeling

    I love the integration apps have made with the iPhone’s built-in camera and photos app—I can text or Facebook or tweet photos I take on my iPhone with great ease and user friendliness. However, if I’ve taken 40 photos with my iPhone camera, how do I keep track of which is which? Currently, I can’t. It would be nice if iPhone would allow use of a labeling or tagging system so that as soon as I snap a picture, I can record what it is a picture of. Even a voice recorded tag would work (though I see this as using up too much precious memory). That way, I won’t post a photo of my bunions on Facebook thinking it’s one of me in Amsterdam. The ability to label would be useful even for those who are sighted: how many times have you taken pictures of a burger you’d eaten and then forgotten later where and when you ate that burger? Give us a labeling feature for our photos!

All in all, I love my 4S. Stay tuned for a list of VO-compatible apps…

holiday gifts for the blind

If you’re like most people, this time of year is not always one of family fun and relaxation. It’s a season of hustle and bustle, of scouring the malls and web for that perfect gift (or gifts) for your spouse, child, grandchild, best friend, crazy aunt, postal carrier. No, the holidays are not stress-free at all. And if you’ve got a visually impaired person on your Christmas list, you may be at an even greater loss as to what to get her.

Not to fear. The folks over at AccessWorld have put together their annual list of holiday gifts for the sight-impaired. The list includes iProduct accessories so they can dress up that iPhone, iPad, etc. Check it out and get some great ideas to give to that special sight-impaired someone in your life. Now visually fine crazy Aunt Wanda? Can’t help you there.