Screen Timeout

Setting a reasonably short screen timeout period is key to battery conservation, and yet, it can also lead to much frustration when reading for an extensive period. This is true for everyone, but especially so for blind users who cannot interact with the screen until the whole text is spoken, lest they interrupt its flow. TalkBack, the screen-reader, attempts to keep the screen awake while reading, but this does not work equally well in every situation, as anybody who has tried reading long app descriptions in the Play Store can attest.

Enters Screen Timeout Toggle, a very simple widget which has for sole purpose to disable and re-enable the user's preferred timeout value at the tap of a finger. The widget itself is not properly labeled, but this can be overcome by placing it in a known and easily accessible location, such as the corner of a home screen. When tapped, the new status is announced and, even better, a notification is issued, serving both as a reminder and shortcut to restore timeout to its preset value. This should make balancing reading enjoyment and battery thriftiness a much easier task than before.

Volume Management

Android offers a very flexible volume control system, allowing to choose a different loudness for media, ringer, as well as a variety of notifications. This is a good thing, but it can also be a little frustrating when needing to adjust a specific volume in a hurry, as you then need to dive three submenus deep to achieve it. For TalkBack users, this situation comes up fairly regularly, as there is no individual volume for the speech synthesiser and it's therefore necessary to play with the media volume for more than just music and videos. There are countless widgets and applications available in the play store to control volume levels, but, sadly, a discouragingly large number of them are inaccessible.

Today, I had the good fortune to stumble on an app called AudioManager which, though it does not seem to do anything more or better than the other dozen or so similarly purposed apps on the Play Store, seems to be entirely accessible. Its widgets do not seem to work, but a simple shortcut on a home screen is sufficient to open the app with all the requisite sliders, each under an appropriate heading. The pro version includes some useful extra features, such as profiles and locks. Until I find an accessible notification area widget solution, this is likely to be my first choice for all volume tweaking needs.