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Music Identification iPhone App to Get Restored VoiceOver Accessibility

October 31, 2010 • Darrell Shandrow

New versions of Shazam Entertainment’s music-identification iPhone apps will restore VoiceOver accessibility for blind listeners.

23-year-old blind computer programmer Jason White said the inaccessible Shazam update interfered with VoiceOver on his iPod Touch even after switching away from the app, forcing him to completely close the app in order to restore VoiceOver accessibility.

“When I attempted to use Shazam, speech from VoiceOver ceaced or was extremely sluggish,” White said. “I was quite disconcerted when the problem first occured, because I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t tell if Shazam was causing VoiceOver to freze, or whether the entire unit had just frozen, since Voiceover is my primary access method to the iPod.”

Peter Mahach, a 14-year-old blind iPhone user from Poland, said he used Shazam to identify the music in sound clips he enjoys collecting.

“shazam was a really great tool which allowed me to identify a sound clip and listen to the full version of the song via YouTube,” he said. “When shazam 3 came out, it did get expanded but also got considerably more unlabeled buttons and the youtube feature, which before would load up the first match now displayed some search results, and if you tapped on one it did absolutely nothing.”

Mahach said Shazam became inaccessible after a recent update, and he has missed the ability to use the app.

“I did have issues with voice over stopping speech when the app began tagging, so what I did to stop recording was disconnect my headphones from the iPod which effectively caused the app to stop recording and identify the song,” Mahach said. “Now the app completely stopped being usable for the moment and if I need to identify something I have to fall back on trying to hear as many words of the song as possible, then googling for them.”

Shazam Entertainment got bug reports from customers about audio management issues and crashes after the update.

“When we implemented version 3 of our application on the iPhone, it was a very big scope, there were a number of bugs, a few people complained about crashing and one of those bugs was that VoiceOver stopped working,” said Roy Rosenthal, legal counsel for Shazam Entertainment. “When the microphone is on, the app can’t also implement VoiceOver. We actually have a copy of a long e-mail from someone who voiced this concern. It was the only one we did have, but our fix to it was go into your Shazam settings and turn off your microphone.”

Rosenthal said the company moved fast to squash the bugs.

“As of two days ago, we submitted version 3.1 of Shazam Free, and that has fixed the bug,” Rosenthal said. “VoiceOver will be back in as soon as the approval process goes through, which usually takes three days to a week on Apple’s side.”

Rosenthal said the VoiceOver fix will find its way into the paid-for Shazam Encore app on its next release, version 3.1.1, slated for the middle of November.

He said the company values customer feedback.

“It’s frustrating for us, because the bigger complaint we were getting from customers was that it was crashing and, so, we scrambled like crazy to fix that and that’s why 3.1 is coming out so quickly,” Rosenthal said. “I think we have a good reputation with our users and we’d like to keep it that way, so if there are issues of accessibility out there we’re going to act pretty quickly to take care of those.”

Categories: Apple, iPhone

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