As you know, last Tuesday we launched our brand new exciting app for i-Devices. This app is freely available from the iTunes Store without displaying any advertisements at all, and enables you to listen to Team-fM easily and take advantage of existing and upcoming services we would like to launch in the future.
Thank you for your feedback regarding the app which we were very pleased to receive. We are already working to improve it and to include new features which you have asked for.
While the first version of our Android app is now complete and fully functional, after very careful consideration we have decided not to release it at the moment.
The app is working perfectly well from a visual perspective. To say again, it is fully functional, stable and we think a good attempt at the creation of a first app for Android devices. However, there are some accessibility challenges which would make it difficult for a blind person to operate it independently.
On the I O S platform from Apple, you are working with a known quantity. Apple have devised a standard platform on which the product will be used. While the model may vary, i-Devices are predominantly the same and have an identical technical infrastructure. When you buy an iPhone for example, everyone knows exactly what to expect and how it is laid out. In addition to that, the VoiceOver screen-reader is built into the operating system and Apple themselves have very strict guidelines as to testing and the acceptance of apps into their store.
On the Android platform however, the screen-reader which needs to be downloaded onto the phone is called Talkback. A great deal of work needs to be undertaken to ensure that apps are compatible with Talkback and so they are optimised for low vision users. In addition, there are a number of different phone models requiring to be tested together with varying configurations which can be applied. So the playing field here is far from being level.
While we are certainly not by any means a radio station “for the blind”, we truly value the support that the visually impaired community have given to us. We would not wish anyone to be disadvantaged and to not be on the same level as people who can see. We have decided therefore that we absolutely cannot release an app which is inaccessible unless an area of it is specifically designed to be visual.
Our staff do not have expertise in using Android devices, and so we have enlisted the help of a number of both blind and sighted people to test the app for us in its stages of development and we are extremely grateful to them for their assistance. As and when we get to a point when the app is usable with Talkback, we will be very happy to release it. But until then, while it would be good to have an app available in Google Play for the majority of people to use, we do stand firm on the subject of accessibility and will not release it until we’re happy.
Do continue to enjoy our app for i-Devices and rest assured we are working very actively on making it available for Android.