While the Polaris has many powerful programs created specifically for the visually impaired, one of its most powerful features is the ability to install and use native Android applications directly from the Google Play Store. Note: While there are many native Android apps that work well, HIMS cannot and does not guarantee the accessibility or usability of any application that is not developed specifically for Polaris. Apps should generally work well if they meet Google accessibility standards, however many apps are not made to meet these standards and are not easily usable on any Android device running a screen reader.
Before you can install native Android applications, you must first installed a Google account and you must be connected to Wifi. Open the Play Store by navigating to it from the Main menu, and pressing “Enter”. You can also press the letter “P”.
When you first open the Play Store application, you will need to sign into your Google account. It is important to note: when you use the Google Play Store and any applications you install from there, you are utilizing native Android apps. Thus, you are no longer accessing the BrailleSense interface, and interaction and navigation is slightly different. BrailleSense Polaris contains a mobile screen reader that is automatically executed when you use any native Android app. It is somewhat similar to TalkBack for Android with some notable enhancements. Because you must navigate the graphical Android screen, it can sometimes be difficult to locate what you need efficiently. For this reason, the Polaris screen reader allows you to locate icons according to their first letter. So, if you’re looking for a Search icon, press the letter S. Pressing a given letter will take you to the first icon that matches. Subsequent presses of the same letter will jump to additional icons on the screen beginning with that letter. Use “F3” and “Space-F3” to move among individual objects on the screen. The Control and Alt keys will often take you to different content areas on the screen. In programs like Docs, Sheets, and Slides, keyboard shortcuts are available for QWERTY keyboards, and the Control and Alt keys allow you also to utilize these functions.
Use “Space-1-2-3” to move to the top of the current content area, and “Space-4-5-6” to move to the bottom of the current content area. Use “Enter” to select or run the current item, and “F4”, “Space-E”, or “Space-Z” to move back one screen.
To type in an edit box, you must press “Enter” to activate Edit Mode before you can input text. To adjust slider controls, press “Backspace-Space-4” to increase the slider value, and “Backspace-Space-1″ to decrease a slider value”.
You can also navigate Android apps using the Media keys on the front panel. Use “Back” and “Next” to move to the previous and next object. “Record” serves as the android Back button. “Play” opens Recent Apps, and “Stop” returns you to the main Menu.
If you prefer to use more traditional keystrokes for navigating objects, you can change the method of navigation to emulate Swipe gestures as does TalkBack, using Space-1 and Space-4. To turn on the gesture method, press Backspace-Enter-H while using the Mobile Screen reader. Use the same keystroke to change back to the original mobile Screen Reader method.
It is also possible to operate Android apps in a more traditional manner using a keyboard and/or mouse, or portable touch monitor. You can turn accessibility features on and off by pressing the “Stop” and “Next” media buttons together on the front panel of the device. When the Mobile Screen Reader is on, these accessories will operate similar to how they would when using TalkBack. When the mobile Screen Reader is off, they will operate as they would traditionally operate in Android.
Once you have signed into your Google account, you may search for applications using the “Search” function. If you have other Android devices, and have already purchased apps from the Play Store, open the Navigation drawer, and choose the “My Apps” option. By default, the Play Store displays only what is currently installed on this unit. Select the “All” button to show all apps you have purchased or downloaded. From an Apps list, press “Enter” to view the details of an app. If you wish to install it, locate the “Install” button and press “Enter”. You are presented with a dialog showing the necessary app permissions. Locate the “Accept” button, or press the letter A to jump to it, and press “Enter”.
When apps are installed, they will appear in the “All Apps” list at the end of the main program menu. When Polaris ships, this list contains stock Android apps and Google basics. The list is displayed in alphabetical order and can be navigated with first letter navigation.
At the bottom of the Apps list is an “App Manager. The App Manager allows you to uninstall any native Android app on your Polaris. You can also access the traditional Android Actions Menu for each app by pressing “Enter-I” when focused on app you want to act on.