One of the many aspects that Microsoft has improved in the upcoming Windows 8 platform when compared to older operating system releases is the Narrator.
In fact, the company has taken into consideration feedback from those who installed early Windows 8 releases as well, and made sure that the latest platform flavor came to users with an improved feature.
took into consideration ideas coming both from Microsoft employees who played with the Narrator in Windows 8, as well as from people from outside who had the chance to take it for a spin, to make sure that it makes a better idea on what needs to be enhanced in it.
One of the goals of these tests was to ensure that people could easily get the Narrator up and running on touch-enabled devices, all straight from the first moment.
This also included finding and installing applications through the Windows Store, or performing usual tasks such as sending emails, reading webpages, and listening to music.
“The excitement around the work we'd done so far was overwhelming and gratifying, but it was clear that we still had more work to do to make touch Narrator even better,” Doug Kirschner from Microsoft’s Accessibility team notes in a blog post
Thus, the company took into consideration the feedback received from those who tested the Narrator, and decided that some of the areas it needed to focus on included:
Responsiveness: We heard that Narrator on touch screens didn’t feel responsive enough.
Gestures: Some people had difficulty with Narrator gestures, particularly some of the more complicated multi-finger gestures.
App exploration: Finding particular elements on the screen (e.g. finding tiles on the Start screen) could be hard for people not already familiar with the particular app or UI.
Web navigation: The commands available in the Consumer Preview were not extensive enough for some webpages.
The Narrator in Windows 8
Release Preview was redesigned to feel more responsive to touch, while also offering more effective use of audio cues.
Each gesture has an audio cue associated with it, so that users know they performed it, even if the Narrator takes a little longer to acknowledge the gesture.
“These cues were designed to be quick, short and easily distinguishable, allowing you to instantly recognize whether your gesture is successful and if your action has been taken,” Doug Kirschner explains.
Narrator's touch interaction model was also modified, now made simpler and easier to remember. Most common tasks can be performed through simple taps and flicks, while gestures are grouped more logically than before.
Enhancements were brought to the web navigation as well as to the default cursor mode, so as to deliver a better exploration model for the Narrator.
“We’ve made many more improvements based on your feedback—including reading out touch hints that teach you how to activate items, improving the Narrator settings UI to be easier to use with touch, and adding a new setting that makes it easier to type on the touch keyboard,” Kirschner notes.
“While we believe Narrator is feature complete at this point, we’re still fixing bugs and fine-tuning it before Windows 8