Monday, September 6, 2010

The Top 8 Android Apps for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Smartphones seem to be everywhere now: it seems like everyone has an iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry. And the number of people buying Android-powered phones is rising steadily, beating out the iPhone.

So if you're deaf, and you've got an Android phone in your pocket like me, what should you download to get the most out of it?

(Note: I was not compensated by any app developers for this post. Everything below is my personal opinion.)

Evernote 
Evernote has several functions. It's useful for keeping track of your daily life, but it's also great for note taking. Use Evernote to pass notes back and forth and communicate more easily with other people. Several deaf people at the library I work at rely on paper notes to communicate. Doing it using software such as Evernote allows you to save the communication to refer back to later. Also great for a visual person like me - you can take photos and tag them to remember later. I just started using Evernote and really like it.

Google Goggles
Google Goggles is like something out of a science fiction novel. Point it at something, like a barcode, book cover, painting, or random object, and Google will come back with results about it. Perfect for on-the-fly research without having to seek someone out to speak to or call.

Google Voice
Back in May I wrote about Google Voice, and how it's useful for the deaf. Google Voice is also available for Android phones, and it's integrated so seamlessly into the phone you might not even notice it. You can see transcriptions of your voicemails from your phone and listen to them without navigating an annoying voicemail menu with a robotic voice. If you're having trouble hearing a voicemail, listen to it from the Google Voice website on your computer's speakers. Or see if Google does a good job transcribing it for you!

Instant Lyrics (Lite or Pro)
Instant Lyrics is a lot of fun and really great for me - I really like having lyrics of songs handy. Just start up your phone's music player (I use Last.fm) and then start up Instant Lyrics. The software will display the lyrics of the song.

Messaging and/or Google Talk
I love it when my friends have Google Talk and I can just use that instead of texting them, but the messaging app built into my phone does a good job, too. I'd recommend Google Talk if you have friends with Google accounts. I like being able to see the entire conversation, and I like how it syncs with my Google account from my computer.

Shazam
If you are like me, you can't always identify music you hear on the radio right away. Maybe you can hear the catchy beat or a line of a song that intrigues you but you can't hear it well enough, or you can never hear the radio announcer giving the name of the song. I love Shazam at moments like these. You start up Shazam and follow the directions to allow the app to "listen" to the music for a few moments, and it returns the name and performer of the song.

Silent Time (Lite or Pro)
I often have my phone's ringer up as loud as possible along with the vibrate function on to make sure I hear my calls. It can be embarrassing in public when everyone around me can hear my phone ringing. So I use Silent Time to schedule when I know I don't want to answer my phone - mostly, at work - each day. Setting it up was easy - I told it my work times and days of the week, and it automatically goes into silent mode during those times.

TripIt
You can avoid having to make phone calls in the middle of a vacation by using TripIt. TripIt can take your travel itinerary (even import it from Gmail), and use it to check in online and see flight, weather, and traffic information as you travel. I haven't personally used this one yet, but I'm excited to. 

Let me know if you have any other suggestions! I love trying out new apps.

22 comments:

  1. Several I strongly recommend:

    GMail notifier - you can change the number of vibrations per email from the standard 2 to 4 or even 7, and add reminders as well

    Handcent SMS - for managing txts, this can't be beat. Also has custom notifications for specific contacts - number of vibrations or even the color of the taskbar notification, i.e., my SO is purple instead of the standard blue notification so I know I'd better answer right away ;-)

    For the EVO and Epic, phones with front facing cameras - Qik and Fring are fantastic videochat programs

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  2. Thanks Dennis! Going to try those out! :)

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  3. any app that specifically interact with hearing aids?

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  4. I second the Handcent SMS app... hands down the best-- Can adjust the colors and size of font.. a huge bonus for a severely vision impaired person like me. I was trawling google looking for a text/tty relay app. Stumbled upon here and saw the Silent Time app! THANK YOU! I've been looking for an 'automated' turn on/off app. My old SK3 I could set it up to switch.
    I have a MyTouch 4G.

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    1. If you're looking for a relay I use Hamiliton CapTel, the only that sucks is I have to teach others to call them in order for incoming calls to be captioned.

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  5. Install both Subloader (downloads Subtitles) and MoboPlayer. I use those to watch downloaded movies (Torrents).

    Also try TED Air: Inspirational videos with Subtitiles. :)

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    1. Not a good idea! Torrents can be used for legal purposes - but the VAST majority of the time is is stealing. In addition to being immoral - it is also illegal, and a great way to get a virus that can ruin your phone.

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  6. Subber.com
    Subtitles platform for YouTube videos

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  7. I would really benefit from an app that allowed you to change the equalisation of the audio on phone conversations. For people with hearing loss like mine, where only the top frequencies are affected, this would really help. I've found an equaliser app bit it only works for music and ringtones etc, not during phone calls.

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    1. I wish they did too... but that would take the place of $4,000 hearing aides that do that. My hearing loss is only in the lower frequecies so it's not enough for people to think that I am deaf or hard of hearing... just the annoying one who ignores you, or asks "what" all the time.

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  8. My Fiance is deaf, and I just got her a droid phone. She recently lost her hearing, and can talk, and reads lips very well. My question, is there a droid app that would allow her to use the phone by talking into it, but relaying what the other person is saying as text on the phone?

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    1. Look into Hamilton Captel, she can speak into it but they will caption anyone who is speaking with her. Yoou have to sometimes explain to others that there is a delay in the the speaking because it is a live translator typing out the captioning. It's weird to get used to but very helpful for those with full/understandable speech but hearing loss. The only downside is others have to call a number and then they call yours. I just hang up on most callers and call them right back, especially if I don't want to explain about the hearing loss

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  9. Yes there is! It's a great app, free, from Sprint Wireless Captel...use with ANY cell provider (I'm with Verizon). You can call, or receive calls, from hearing people, and what they are SAYING is captioned as they speak! Then you just talk into the phone and they hear you as they would any other cellphone call, and reply back by talking, and the deaf/hard of hearing person 'reads the live captioning' as it's being spoken!!

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    1. That is wonderful. I am profoundly deaf.I have a caption phone at home but being able to have a caption on the cell is jusr great. Thank you for the info.

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    2. I would like to know about that app. My father only has 40% hearing in one ear and none in the other. He wants to be able to read what the other person is saying - as they are talking. I will try to to find this if I can.

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  10. Does anyone know of an App for the Android that allows you to use your phone and earbuds as a hearing device in noisy rooms - supposedly works better than hearing aide!

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  11. Yes please to this, I'd like one for using my ph & earbuds too

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  12. I want the same app. Phone & earbuds. Please! Thanks. =)

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  13. Yes please to this, I'd like one for using my ph & earbuds too

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  14. ACTUALLY,.. I NEED HELP WITH FINDING AN APP FOR CELLPHONE OR SIMILAR PHONES THAT CAN RECORD LIVE CONVERSATION AND PLAYBACK IN ''REAL-TIME'' SIMULTANEOUSLY ..I NEED THIS FOR LIVE ONE TO ONE CONVERSATION..I CAN NOT USE HEARING AIDS AND HANDHELD VOICE REORDER DID NOT HELP.. SOUND COMING THRU DIGITAL MEDIA IS A WHOLE LOT CLEARER FOR ME TO HEAR I USE THIS CONCEPT TO HEAR TV BUT LIVE ONE TO ONE CHAT NEEDS SOMETHING LITE & PORTABLE

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  15. GoSMS Pro has a huge list of factors that can be used for the deaf or hard of hearing. They recently modified the entire settings so now its possible to actually set vibration type for any contact, LED blinking lights by both color and cycle, themes, color notifications, SMS pop ups, and so forth. It even has a back up program, making it even more resourceful if your in dire need to check your old messages. Flash Alerts is also a great little perk to have, if your phone has a camera that's got flash, get this. Its a huge help when you get a SMS or email it will flash. As for subtitles, its not so easy, there's really not a strong application that supports the scripts but they have been adding CC to a lot of movies now, its a process but its slow.

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  16. We use google translate English to English. Works great

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