Tesco Hudl 2, Part 2: the device

In much the same way as the Kindle is preloaded with Amazon products and services, Tesco have preloaded a range of their own applications, to add ease of access to services such as:

  • Tesco apps – groceries, direct, clubcard, real food, F+F, Tesco Bank, Tesco photo and My Tesco
  • BlinkBox music, movies and books

After the initial setup where you’ll be asked to log in to your Google/Gmail account and connect to WiFi (more on that later), you’ll notice that the tablet interface is mainly app based. There are no confusing widgets, which should (in theory), mean less confusion about what and where to click. As such the interface is quite usable, and the tablet also includes a start-up tutorial to get you going. But how accessible is it? Well, gone are the days when only iOS (apples operating system) for iPad and iPhones was deemed accessible, Android has made a lot of progress in this area over the past few years.

Can the budget Tesco Android tablet really be a contender in supporting Digital Inclusion?

Can I get a Hudl2, adapt the settings to make it work for anyone with a disability, and order my groceries online?

Tesco's Hudl2

I’m not going to compare Android with iOS in detail here, we’re just going to focus on the capabilities of the Hudl2. To do this, I thought I’d take a look at:

  • the physical item
  • the Tesco grocery app
  • some extend Android itself

If you are interested in a detailed comparison between the accessibility features of Android kitkat and iOS then I would recommend looking at Paul Adams’ review at http://pauljadam.com/kitkata11y/

Accessibility features

There are some key accessibility features to look for with a tablet. Running the latest version of Android will help to ensure that you have access to the latest and most useful features. The Hudl2 runs on an almost vanilla KitKat 4.4 version of Android (which at this point in time is the very latest release) Kitkat 4.4 is the version of Android most like Windows XP and Windows 8. Let’s take a look at each feature in turn.

Magnification

To bring some context to how useful magnification features are in a tablet, I would like to introduce my Nana. I would class my Nana as someone who has little digital knowledge or skills, she is of the older generation and, whilst she doesn’t have a disability she is unconfident with technology. Pinch and zoom is an easy feature once shown and she can make things larger when needed without getting her glasses or going into change the settings. My Grandad, however, has glaucoma but is tech savvy, and whilst he does still have some useful sight, he does need to make things bigger.

Remember though it isn’t just those with failing sight who may magnify. What if you’ve had a long day, your eyes are tired, the website you’re looking at has tiny text? Magnification can be useful for us all.

With the Hudl2, as well as being able to use magnification gestures, you can also turn on large text. There is, however, only one large text setting, unlike in iOS which allows you to make text larger or smaller by 7 settings.

Speech technology

The text to speech functionality in iOs is called VoiceOver. On the Tesco Hudl2 and indeed in Android generally it is called TalkBack. Talkback allows someone who cannot see or read the screen the ability to navigate by hearing where the focus is instead for example it should read the name of an app to you. When you first turn on speech, there is a tutorial that takes you through each of the features of swiping, searching through menus, reading granularity – e.g. by letter, word or paragraph, and editing text, which I think is great for a first time user. TalkBack does change the way you use a tablet, For example, it requires double clicking to follow a link or to use a button.

Screenshot of the Hudl2 Talkback menu

Tactile navigation

Again I find myself referring to the iPad because the tactile element is so simple. Until someone points it out, you’ll possibly never know why it is so important. Imagine you’ve gone into some settings, you have no idea where you are or how to get out. On the iPad you move your finger to the bottom of the device and the ‘home’ button is indented, press it, and you’re taken back to the home screen. On all Android phones the home button has always been on the screen, which is great if you can see, it isn’t if you can’t. With the Hudl2 there is no tactile home button, although unlike the first Hudl the home button is always displayed bottom centre of the screen, making it easier for someone who is already familiar with the Android layout.

Colour contrast

There aren’t any built in features to amend the colour contrast of the Hudl2. This is the same for many Android phones, my HTC M8 included. However, Android’s TalkBack Beta does include this as a feature. It’s just many phone and tablet manufacturers do not include this feature. iOS from version 7 onwards allows you to invert colours and adjust greyscale as well as increasing the colour contrast, considering colour contrast is important to many people with particular visual impairments and dyslexia, this is a real shame. We often focus on people who are blind but there are many more people with dyslexia and other reading impairments so the colour contrast feature has the potential to be used more than TalkBack. I really hope this issue is addressed quickly by those incorporating Android into their products. This isn’t an insurmountable obstacle, though, as there are apps you can download that will adjust the colour contrast for you. One example is Screen Adjuster, which costs just 73p.

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