iPhone upgrade results in keystroke glitch

June 21, 2011 6:57:18 PM PDT
People who iPhones, are usually big fans of the cool mobile device. But for the visually-impaired, iPhones are more than just a cool gadget -- they're a lifeline.

The cool apps get all the attention, but iPhones also have a basic feature that opens up a whole world for the visually-impaired -- at least it did before the latest upgrade.

For Todd Kinard, the simple act of reading a website is a huge challenge. He's legally blind and can barely see even huge magnified letters.

"Everything's in a white haze and the further you get away the more you disappear in this white haze," says Kinard.

So, while the rest of the world was clamoring for smartphones, Kinard was left squinting at their tiny screens. Until one day he tried Apple's famous iPhone.

"The zoom feature on the iPhone, it was like a miracle to me," he says. "It just opened up a whole new world to me."

The zoom feature magnifies letters up to five times the normal size -- big enough for Kinard to send the first text message of his life.

"I said, 'Oh my God, I can see the screen,'" says Kinard. "I could text message, I could go online, I could do email, I could do anything that a normal person could do."

He used the zoom for two years until one day a routine Apple software update changed everything. Keystrokes started going crazy.

"It started adding all these extra letters when you would type and these popus," he says.

Writing "Hey, this is Todd" comes out as jibberish. Typing "What's going on" results in more jibberish. Even just typing his name results in several words displaying

"I couldn't text anymore," he says. "I can't go to apps that need a password. I spent an hour typing one sentence one time."

Kinard felt his world closing off again so he went to the Apple store. The company gave him a brand new phone, but that phone did the very same thing.

"Nothing happening, I decided to call 7 On Your Side," he says.

7 On Your Side contacted Apple. It said that indeed there is a problem with the zoom feature. It's because Apple upgraded the zoom to make it easier to move the screen for reading. That works well, but it resulted in these unintended keystrokes. So Apple is now working on a fix that should be ready by the fall.

"I felt great actually," he says. "I feel like finally someone's listening to me."

Apple declined an on-camera interview, but tells 7 On Your Side that this feature is very important to its customers and the company is committed to making it work perfectly. The zoom is just one of several features on the new iPhone that make it possible for the visually-impaired to use all those very cool apps.

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