Blind Bargains

BrailleNote Touch 2.0 is here: but It's Not a Hardware Upgrade


This fall has been full of new software and hardware releases from Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the VFO Group. And now, Humanware has one to add to the pile. BrailleNote Touch 2.0 was released last week and delivers the features J.J. wrote about before. The only difference between what was reported, and what Humanware is advertizing is that it's being called "BrailleNote Touch 2.0" instead of Keysoft, the operating system name for all BrailleNote products prior to the Touch.

The upgrade process itself took me about 20 minutes on a relatively fast connection. It's worth noting that speech support drops in a few places, but braille support is always available unless the BrailleNote Touch is restarting.

Recognize This?

KNFB Reader is one of the new applications you will find present after upgrading to BrailleNote Touch 2.0. Those users who have utilized KNFB Reader on Android or iOS will find a very familiar lay-out and set of features. For example, when launching KNFB Reader on the BrailleNote Touch, you are placed on the take Picture button, though it is not located at the top left corner of the screen like on iOS. When recognizing text, I found that using the same strategy recommended for both iOS and Android phones and other tablets worked best. That is, placing your elbows on the table and holding the device at arm's length to get the best results. Speaking of results, they appear to be slightly less accurate than what I found while using the app on my iPhone. TO be fare, the BrailleNote Touch is a much larger and heavier device, and I'm also used to taking a picture of printed text on my iPhone, so the few more errors on the part of the BrailleNote Touch may be attributed simply to this fact. It may be handy for the development of a stand for the BrailleNote to help those who have difficulty holding the BrailleNote Touch at the appropriate level to get an accurate picture of the text they wish to perform an OCR on. I spoke with a Humanware Tech Support Rep who said there were no plans that he was aware of to develop such a stand, but that if enough customers requested this, it would be taken under consideration.

Is It a Brailliant, Or A BrailleNote Touch?

For the most part, that's not a difficult question to answer, since the 2 devices are not similar in either their appearance or price point. But if you wish to connect the BrailleNote Touch to another device, the newly connected technology won't notice the difference, usually. This is because Humanware has used the firmware to emulate a Brailliant BI 32 when connecting with another device to bring immediate support to VoiceOver, , NVDA, JAWS, and other screen readers. The first time I entered Braille Terminal Mode and chose bluetooth, none of my devices were able to find the BrailleNote Touch. I had to perform a file repair on the device, and then the BrailleNote Touch showed up on all of my devices. Pairing it is very similar to the Brailliant, which does not require you to enter an authentication code. Instead, you simply confirm you wish to pair with the BrailleNote Touch, and off you go.

Like the Brailliant, I found that the BrailleNote Touch was fairly responsive as a Terminal for my iPhone SE. However, I also found that it would freeze from time to time, and that I would have to exit Braille Terminal mode and go back in to it. One improvement over the Apex in this regard is that all commands are as they should be with other braille displays. You do not have to enter a key to bypass going to the Main menu when you want to enable your Screen Curtain, for example. Both are space with dots 1-2-3-4-5-6. Now, the square button in the middle of the front panel on the BrailleNote Touch is the only way which one can exit Braille Terminal without resetting the device. You can also use the touch screen on the BrailleNote Touch to do Screen Braille Input.

For those wishing to connect through BrailleBack on Android, I did not have time to test this. However, a few users who connected to their phones via BrailleBack reported to me that, though the BrailleNote Touch will connect, the keyboard is not functioning correctly. I cannot confirm or deny this behavior.

Unlock Your Mathematical abilities With KeyMath

Now that we have discussed the bringing back of the ability to connect to devices, it's time to discuss another feature which has been around on the Braille Sense line since earlier this year, which is the implementation of both UEB and Nemeth Code math symbols. As I reported in September, HIMS went a step further by giving users access to an online resource to select symbols for each braille code if the user was not able to do so. HIMS called that "Symbol Select" and Humanware added an "er" on the end to try to distinguish the difference by calling it "Symbol Selector". It's a feature that was formerly available on the Apex and is now built into the new KeyMath application.

Braille Embossing Goes Wireless

If you own, or have access to, the the Romeo 60, Juliet 120 or the Index V5, you can now emboss KeyWord documents. This works if you are on the same network as the embosser, and requires that you know the IP address of the braille embosser. I do not have access to any of these embossers, so was not able to test this feature.

Updates and Enhancements

In BrailleNote Touch 2.0, KeyBRF has been updated to support both BRL and BRF formats. This includes the creation, editing, and reading of these files. Prior to this release, it was only possible to read digital braille files.

KeyWeb has been updated to the latest version of Firefox for Android as its foundation. This update, to version 47 allows for a more secure web browsing experience. IN my testing of this update, I did notice a few instances where web content would load a bit faster, but I'm not able to provide concrete numbers to document this change, as I do not have access to 2 of these devices to do a comparison. I did notice that, prior to version 2.0, when there was an embedded video on a particular page I wanted to look at, this would cause KeyWeb to quit working. With 2.0, this is no longer the case. This was one of the bugs that was reported as being resolved. There are other improvements to already existing parts of the operating system, which you can check out by visiting the source link. One bug not listed as being fixed in the release notes, which I was happy to see was resolved, is that if you have more than one Wifi network saved on the BrailleNote Touch, prior iterations of the firmware would not automatically connect when a different network was in range. This also seems to be fixed in 2.0.

Go Get it!

If you are an existing BrailleNote Touch customer, this upgrade is free. You can either get it when you are notified of its existence, or from the Main Menu, go to All Applications and run KeyUpdater.

Source: Humanware
Category: News

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