Archive for November, 2008

iPod Nano Update Lets you Turn Off Cover Flow

November 12, 2008

The talking fourth generation iPod Nano is a wonderful MP3 player. Until now, however, it included a real annoyance; whenever you tilted or turned the Nano, Cover Flow would turn on. Cover Flow is a feature that lets sighted people select albums by scrolling through pictures of album covers. Album names aren’t spoken when it’s on, however, so the feature is inaccessible to a blind person. Turning the Nano upright would turn off Cover Flow, so it was easy enough to get the Nano speaking again, but if you had the Nano clipped to your belt and bent over or turned suddenly, the words, “Cover Flow,” would interrupt your listening, and the words “Now Playing” would interrupt it again when you stood up and Cover Flow turned off. The only solution was to turn the Hold switch on.

Fortunately, Apple’s latest update, version 1.0.3, fixes this problem. With the update installed, there is a new item on the Settings/General Settings menu called Rotate. When focused on Rotate, pressing the center button toggles you between Cover Flow and Off. This setting is independent of the Shake to Shuffle feature, which is set in Settings/Playback.

If you turn Cover Flow off, you can still activate the feature if you wish by choosing Cover Flow from the Music menu. When you’re done with it, press the top of the wheel to move up a menu level, and speech will return.

To update your Nano, connect it to the PC, make sure you’re focused on its name in the iTunes Source list, press TAB once to go to the Check for Updates button, and press ENTER. The update process is accessible. I had to click with the JAWS cursor in the read-only edit box describing the new features of the update in order to read it, but otherwise I could do everything with the PC cursor. When the update was complete, the iPod wouldn’t speak, so I had to turn spoken menus off and then back on, but once the lengthy process of creating the spoken menus was done, everything worked fine. (How lengthy the process is depends on how many tracks you have in your iPod, since itunes must create a voice tag for each one.) If your iPod doesn’t speak after updating, connect it to the PC and make sure you’re focused on your iPod’s name in the iTunes Source list. Press TAB until you reach the Enable spoken Menus check box. Press the SPACEBAR until the box is unchecked, press TAB until you reach the Apply button, and press ENTER. Once the process of removing the voice tags is complete, repeat the procedure, but this time, check the Enable Spoken Menus check box.

I am delighted that Apple has added the ability to turn off Cover Flow to this update.