By Paul Gorski
I was presented with a problem: make phone dialing and data entry easier on a Motorola Moto G smartphone. The user in question was new to smartphones and was not excited by swiping a lot or clicking on the small icons on a Moto G smartphone running Android KitKat 4.4.
First thing I did was to increase the default font size by choosing: Settings … Device … Display … Font … Huge. That made a big difference right away in readability and the ability for the user to click on text. Next, I pre-entered the user’s contacts into the phone and experimented using voice-activated controls to initiate phone calls. That worked, but I still needed to enlarge small app icons and small keyboard characters.
Giganticon (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gabetaubman.giganticon) solved the icon size problem. Giganticon allows Android users to make really big home screen icons. Two icons are free, unlimited icon creation costs 99 cents. I paid the 99 cents and made large phone, text, email, contacts and browser icons. The icons were so big I had to use three home screens. They worked great. The only problem was that the large icons took a few seconds to redraw when re-starting the phone.
What to do about the keyboard? I tried a number of keyboard apps before I found Big Buttons Keyboard Standard (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bigbuttons). The default Big Buttons Keyboard is pretty big, but you can increase it another 20 percent if you want to. The basic app is free, but Big Buttons Keyboard DELUXE ($2.99) includes themes, voice-to-text microphone, word prediction, and large cursor keys. That said, the Big Buttons Keyboard Standard app was a great solution, and I think I will pay for the deluxe version, but I have not yet. It is hard to describe how much easier this app made texting — it made the Moto G feel like a much larger phone.
I tried a variety of texting apps before settling on Google Hangouts. The Big Buttons app made it hard to use some of the free texting apps I tried, obscuring portions of the texting screen. In the end, Hangouts was the best-looking solution, combined with the Big Buttons app.
Now, if I could only find some apps to make a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 easy to use. That is an inside joke for regular readers; read http://rockrivertimes.com/2014/12/02/tech-friendly-surface-pro-3-ad-comparing-it-to-macbook-air-is-a-joke-part-2/ for background information.
Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard wired to the back of an Apple lle.
Posted Dec. 9, 2014