[Loadstone] Porting to Android

Shawn Kirkpatrick shawn at loadstone-gps.com
Thu Oct 22 02:42:32 BST 2015

Allow me to clairify a few things. (a rather long message ahead)
When I say an unlocked phone I mean a phone that isn't locked to any 
particular cellular carrier. Quite often if you get a phone on contract from 
a carrier they lock it to there network. You may not even know they've done 
this until you try to use the phone on another carrier. This applies to all 
platforms, Symbian, Android, and ios. Getting the phone unlocked can involve 
varying degrees of complexity, price, and success. Some carriers will unlock 
it for a fee, sometimes you can use online tools, and sometimes a phone just 
doesn't seem to want to unlock and you're stuck with it. The way to avoid 
this is just to get an unlocked phone but that means buying the phone at 
full price. This has nothing to do with installing third-party software on 
the phone. Doing this isn't a problem at least for android and ios if you 
follow the specified procedures. The only time this could be a problem is if 
the cellular carrier has installed custom firmware that prevents certain 
things. You may not know this either until you want to do something that the 
firmware prevents.
When I use the term workaround I mean how much work does a person have to do 
to make the device accessible and usable. When I say usable I mean as a 
totally blind person being able to use the phone for all the functions a 
modern phone is expected to perform.
Let me state for the record that I am by no means an apple or ios fanatic. 
If I had my way devices would run text-based linux and phones would have 
buttons and all these touch interfaces would be a bad memory. Unfortunately 
we seem to be stuck with touch interface phones so we have to make the best 
of it. The reason I moved from the nokia phones to ios was I was given an 
iphone 4s with the idea of mayby doing a loadstone port.
My experience has been that Apple has done a pretty good job of making what 
is basically a flat peace of glass accessible and usable to a totally blind 
person. To get speech on an iphone or ipad all you have to do is hold down 
the home button and say "turn voiceover on" and that's it. You don't have to 
install any additional software or change the device in any way. This makes 
it possible to use a friend or family member's iphone or ipad if needed. (To 
confuse a sighted person just leave the speech on without telling them, for 
additional fun turn on screen curtain) This accessibility is by no means 
perfect, it has its share of bugs and glitches. Some of these are just 
annoying, others frustrating, and others just mind-numbingly stupid. It's a 
matter of how many bugs and glitches there are and the impact they have on 
what you're trying to do.
I have pretty much no experience with android but the one experience I do 
have was very negative. A few days ago I had an oppertunity to look at an 
android phone. This was the latest model from Samsung (galaxie I think). 
Even with sighted assistance we could not figure out how to turn the speech 
on. I have no doubt that most of this was user error but the fact that it 
couldn't be figured out is a big problem. Any access technology that needs 
sighted assistence to activate really needs to be rethought. It's those kind 
of things that cause me concern about doing anything with the android 
When it comes to accessibility it really can be a matter of opinion as to 
what is and is not acceptable to the user. From the information I've been 
reading about android (I've tried to find information from 2015 when 
possible) it would have issues that would make it unacceptable to me. Not 
being able to turn the speech on without sighted assistance is a big problem 
to me. Another example would be that android doesn't have a gesture to move 
from element to element to explore the screen (feel free to correct this if 
it's wrong) but you have to move your finger around all parts of the screen 
to see what's there. On an ios device you can just swipe left and right to 
move between all elements on the screen, a very useful thing in my opinion 
and possibly a deal breaker to not have it. The review I was reading was 
also giving other examples of possible problems, unlabeled images on the 
home screen by default, things not being read in the correct order etc. It 
was also suggesting some workarounds like installing another home screen 
launcher to improve accessibility etc. Some of this would be a matter of 
opinion, the reviewer's deal breaker was not having a screen curtain feature 
where as I couldn't care less about this feature. Some of this could also 
depend on the device used, another possible issue with the android platform. 
When using ios the experience is pretty much consistant accross the entire 
line of devices since they're all made by Apple. With android the experience 
may very since different manufacturers make different devices. There are 
good and bad points that can be made for both approaches but it is something 
to be awhere of when choosing a platform.
As for the number of people using what this seems to be very region 
dependant. In my case of friends and family in Canada and the UK the break 
down is:
1 nokia phone (symbian series 40)
2 android phones (one samsung, not sure of the other one)
at least 9 iphones (models ranging from 4s to 6s)
at least 3 ipads (not sure of models)
This is admittedly a very small sample size but it does show the 
As far as development goes the statistics I've been reading seem to say 
something like 37% for one and 40% for the other (can't remember which was 
which) so that would seem to indicate that it's pretty much even as to which 
platform developers are developing for.
When it comes to cost there seems to be a huge range of options. For android 
people clame that there are devices for $100 or less but it can also go up 
to $550 or more. This would be because of the different devices by different 
manufacturers. I'm not talking about second hand devices since the prices on 
thoes can be hard to predict. The ios devices seem to start around $500 or 
so and go up from there. The development costs for android are also cheaper, 
around $25 or so for an app on google play vs $125 for an app on the app 
store. The android development can also be done on a pc where the ios 
development has to be done on a mac driving up the cost. This would make 
android a cheaper platform but do you get what you pay for? It's back to a 
matter of opinion on that question.
For more information on the focus of the fund raiser see my next message.

On Wed, 21 Oct 2015, Milos Przic wrote:

> Hi Shawn,
> I write only now because the hole conversation about the fundrasing and 
> porting finished in my spam folder. Anyway, as a passionat user of the 
> Loadstone app back on Symbian, and as a passionate user of android (and not a 
> developer), let me have my two senses on this. I hope that noone will get 
> offended, this is not my intention.
> However, the problem with blind people is that they want everything perfectly 
> set for them, and when they think that they have it, they don't want to see 
> the cons of their choice, they see only pros. This has been the case with the 
> ios-android problem on all levels, by which I mean among the developers, 
> among the advanced users and among average ones. It was shone in your 
> statements too! For example, you talked about the unlocked android phone. By 
> talking about it, you actually said that an ios device has to be unlocked by 
> finding a workaround for that, and in case of Android, the word workaround 
> gives you concerns. So if you and all other ios fanatics out there wanted to 
> look on the things in a  more objective manner, the things would be easier. 
> And here is some personal statistics, similar to the one that Emanuel brought 
> out by mentioning the school where he works. I am from Serbia and I don't 
> know many people who use IPhone. The first reason is its price, the second 
> reason is that it is a closed and limited platform: many apps available on 
> the App store you can not buy in Serbia, for example. I know a hole lot of 
> people who use android, and are happy to find the thing you refer to as 
> workaround rather than to buy a pricy, more limited thing that apparently 
> doesn't require workarounds. I had studied in Italy for 3 years, and people 
> there had more Ihpones because of the standard of the country. When I braught 
> Android into attention as a possibility, I was ridiculed. The final result, 
> however, was passing of the most fanatic ios users to Android, thanks to its 
> fast growing accessibility and never ended flexibility! So if the things were 
> said in another manner, for example, if the donation were for Android and not 
> for ios, you could count on my donation, and I know at least a few other 
> people who will not! donate for Iphone but wil be more than glad to donate 
> for Android. The reason for this is the behavior of the ios users towards the 
> other platforms (you should see my italian friends trying to justify the 
> Ihpone 6 possibility to be bended). And no, this is not only the matter of 
> personal opinion, as you said before, because if you base something so public 
> as the fundrasing is on the personal opinion and not on the facts, the 
> fundrasing wil unfortunately remain on 0.
> Again, I didn't intend to offend, I just wanted to illustrate the situation 
> in a most objective way possible. I hope to see my so far most favorite gps 
> app Loadstone for Android!
> Best,
>         Miloš Pržić
> Twitter: MilosPrzic
> Skype: Milosh-hs
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Shawn Kirkpatrick" 
> <shawn at loadstone-gps.com>
> To: <loadstone at loadstone-gps.com>
> Sent: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 1:35 AM
> Subject: Re: [Loadstone] Porting to Android
>> Thank you for the offer, this actually sounds like a nice little phone so 
>> I'll give it some thought. Unfortunately phraises like "it's not very 
>> comfortable with talkback" cause me concern. The more I read about 
>> accessibility and the android platform the more of these phraises I keep 
>> seeing. Things like:
>> If you change the default synthesizer ...
>> once you change the default home screen launcher ...
>> depending on device selection ...
>> and android version ...
>> some applications are accessible but ...
>> there's a work around for ...
>> Then after every ... there's an explanation of something that might work or 
>> partially work.
>> I found someone I know that has an android phone so I'm hoping to at least 
>> get a look at it in the next week or so to either confirm or deny some of 
>> these things. I don't want to get in to a situation where I'm developing 
>> for a device or platform that is only useful for loadstone or maybe not 
>> even that. We made a similar mistake while developing loadstone for the 
>> nokia phones. Most nokia phones were fine (for what they were at the time) 
>> but then I was given an n97 mini for testing. This was a phone with a touch 
>> screen and a slide out keyboard. The usability on this phone was absolutely 
>> horrible. The combination of the symbian os, the touch interface, and the 
>> support that talks had for it made the worst experience possible. 
>> Ttechnically it worked and could be called accessible but practically 
>> speaking the device wasn't usable for anything, loadstone maybe worst of 
>> all. This phone now just sits on my desk and never got to the point of 
>> being road tested with loadstone. The lesson learned here is that there can 
>> be a very big difference between accessibility and usability and a device 
>> that isn't usable just doesn't get used. If I'm going to spend the time 
>> effort and money to develop for a platform then I want to make very sure 
>> it's something I can actually use.
>> I'm glad to hear that development (at least eclipse) is accessible. This 
>> would seem to put android and ios on equal footing in that area at least.
>> On Sat, 10 Oct 2015, Emanuel Boboiu wrote:
>>> I have a Samsung Young phone which I can give you for free, I can send it 
>>> from Romania via Mail if it's possible. It is a 60 euros price, but it has 
>>> everything: wifi, GPS, memory ram one giga, like an iPhone 5, it has 4 GB 
>>> internal storage and support a 64 SD card flash memory, I have here one of 
>>> 8 GB which I can put inside before sending.
>>> Of course this phone is small and it is not so confortable with talkback, 
>>> but everything can be done with a little patience. Even Google Maps works. 
>>> You can use of course Google Maps APIs for free.
>>> If you are interested, my e-mail address is emanuelboboiu at gmail dot 
>>> com.
>>>   Best regards,
>>>    Manu
>>> -----Original Message----- From: Shawn Kirkpatrick
>>> Sent: Friday, October 9, 2015 3:47 PM
>>> To: loadstone at loadstone-gps.com
>>> Subject: Re: [Loadstone] Porting to Android
>>> I keep hearing about these sub $100 android devices, so hear's a challenge
>>> for anyone, find a sub $100 android unlocked phone in Canada. The hardware
>>> would at least have to have a gps and enough memory to hold a reasonable
>>> amount of map data. It would also have to perform well with talkback. I 
>>> look
>>> forward to seeing what people come up with.
>>> As for loadstone being a web app that's not what loadstone is all about. 
>>> The
>>> idea is to have it work without a data plan or connectivity of any kind. 
>>> Of
>>> course if you have connectivity even better for data loading and other
>>> features but the basics will function offline.
>>> On Fri, 9 Oct 2015, Kotian, H P wrote:
>>>> All
>>>> I am getting a feeling, there is a strong resistance porting to Android. 
>>>> Nexsas devices are indeed pricy. But there are plenty of Android devices 
>>>> which are Sub $100 which has the GPS and decent hardware to test the 
>>>> developed apps.
>>>> Usability of Android devices gets a bit impacted by customisations been 
>>>> done by vendors. However, they will not come in the way of testing a 
>>>> developed apps.
>>>> Moto G is not pricy at all and they are Stock Android.
>>>> At any rate, the approach to make the appweb based would take care of all 
>>>> the platform issues.
>>>> Do consider the developments on this line.
>>>> Harish Kotian
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