Date: January 2022
In this review we have used version 1.1.6 of SymboTalk – AAC Talker with update date September 28, 2021, on a Mi 10T Pro mobile with MIUI Global version 12.5.3 (operating system) and Android 11 RKQ1.200826.002 version. XNUMX.
In addition, we have used SymboTalk version 1.1.4 on a computer with Windows 10 operating system and Google Chrome browser version 97.0.4692.71.
The images presented in this review are screenshots obtained from these devices.
The SymboTalk application has a single interface regardless of the platform used and also allows the synchronization of information between any platform.
In the upper right part of the home screen, we see two icons, the first of them represented by a person's silhouette (see label 1 in the image above), which we will call the “Accessibility” button from now on, and the second icon represented by three horizontal lines (see label 2 in the image above), which we will call the “Menu” button.
The accessibility button is used to modify the font size with the options: small, medium and large. The font size is set to “Small” by default. In addition, thanks to this button we can also activate the high contrast mode, which makes the application convert the colors, to help reduce eye fatigue and make it easier to read or view the elements of the interface.
Below are some screenshots of these settings.
When clicking on the “Menu” button, the following options appear to us:
If we want to register in the application, we can create an account automatically with the email associated with Google by pressing the "Authenticate with Google" button or by manually entering an email and a password, the password must include letters in either upper or lower case and numbers, at least It must be six characters long and a maximum of eight.
Once the account is created we can authenticate ourselves (log in with that user) but it is important to mention that it is not necessary to create an account to be able to use SymboTalk, but it is recommended to create accounts to save our boards or symbols that we have created.
Home: pressing this option will go to the home screen of the application.
Settings: When clicking on this option, a new menu appears with the following options:
- General settings: in general settings we can change the language, set the delay time to avoid multiple touches on a symbol (between 0 and 5 seconds), activate or deactivate the help button and eliminate lost symbols on all boards.
- User mode settings: we will be able to modify the method to exit the user mode, choosing between the options of 3 touches or Pin, automatically lock the user mode when you exit the application and return to the home panel when clicking on a symbol within a nested panel.
- Display settings: we will be able to override the grid set for the board in mobile mode, show or hide the symbol text, adjust the symbols to fill the width of the screen, activate or deactivate the display of the text that appears below the symbols and set the margin between the symbols (none, small, medium or large).
- phrase settings: in this option we can allow the repetitive use of the same symbol in the phrase, add symbols linked to the phrase, show or hide the phrase, change the size of the symbol in the phrase (small, medium or large), select the type of phrase (symbols, text or symbols and text), activate or deactivate the pronunciation of symbols on click and delete or not the phrase automatically once read.
- Search Settings: in this option we can select one of the search engines (SymboTalk, OpenSymbols o ARASAC), change the search language, select a set of symbols for the search (All, Arasaac, sclera, Straight Street, tawasol) and select the number of results displayed on the screen (from 10 to 50 items).
- Account Settings: This option is only available if the user has been authenticated. In it you can edit the name, image and email associated with the account.
- Synchronization settings: This option is only available if the user has been authenticated and subscribed to the SymboTalk cloud service (paid version). If you meet these requirements, you will be able to save your data to the cloud and restore it, plus you will have the option to delete all your data from the server.
- Accessibility settings: You can set whether to show or hide the accessibility button, set the font size (small, medium, or large), and set the high contrast.
- Privacy settings: You can allow or not the monitoring of the analysis services and, in addition, if you have been authenticated, the option to delete the account will appear (your data is deleted from the server).
Frequent questions: By pressing this option, the user will access a list of topics where the user can resolve any specific questions that have arisen. In addition, you can search by keyword, thanks to the built-in search engine on this screen.
add symbol: in this screen the user will be able to add their own symbols, assigning them a label name, setting the background color and linking it to another board. You can add (from a file or gallery on your device, camera or online library) or edit the image by tapping the icon represented by a pencil.
my symbols: to visualize our symbols it is necessary to enter the name in the search engine, in addition, when clicking on the icon of the three points present in each symbol we will visualize the following options: Record, Pronounce, Link to board, Link to web, Edit and Delete.
Add board: This option allows you to create a board, to create it, it is necessary to fill in the "name" field, select a size (from 1×1 to 7×9 cells), we can also add a color to the background.
Boards: This screen shows a list of all our available boards (default and user-created). If we have many boards, it is possible to filter the search with a keyword using the search engine included on this screen. [More information in the “Edit mode” section]
Add profile: on this screen it is possible to add more profiles associated with the account, we must add an image that presents the user, their name, their gender (only two options available: Male and female) and select their main board [More information in the section “ Edit mode”]
Profiles: allows you to manage the profiles associated with an account where it is possible to access the selected profile, edit, share or delete the profile.
Sharing: By pressing this option we will have the possibility to share profiles, but it is only available if you have unlocked the cloud storage (paid version). Sharing a profile will add and download the profile and associated boards and symbols to the recipient's device.
The editing mode allows us to create, edit, duplicate or delete boards and manage profiles. To access the edit mode, we must go to the “Edit mode” tab and press the “Start” button. Immediately afterwards, the "Boards" screen is displayed, showing the list of all the default boards and those created by the user.
We see a difference in the version for web browsers and the version for Android devices. The web version shows the list of boards, each row presents an image that represents the board, the date of creation, the size and an icon represented by three points on the right side, pressing this icon shows the options image, pdf, edit , duplicate and delete, the image and pdf options generate the download of the board in jpg and pdf format respectively.
However, in the mobile version we must swipe to the right (on an item in the list of boards) to bring up the “Delete” option and to the left to bring up the edit and duplicate options, but the options to delete the board or generate a file (image or pdf) do not exist.
By clicking on one of the boards in the list, we will access that board. We observe that some of the cells have a blue mark in the upper right corner, this indicates that said cell is linked to another board. This means that when clicking on a cell that has this feature we will be redirected to that linked board.
From the editing mode we can also add profiles that will be used in the user mode.
When adding a profile we can modify the image that will represent the user by editing the default image, uploading a file or using the device's camera, add the user's name (mandatory field), select the user's gender and select a main board (if you don't select it, the “Main” dashboard will appear by default).
To add symbols we can press the “Menu” button and then add symbols or press the button
“Symbols” that appears in the “Edit mode” tab and, finally, press the “+” button. There is also a way to add symbols from a board edit.
Whichever route we take to access the add symbols option, the screen will be the same.
The image of the symbol can be uploaded as a photo captured from the camera, from a file or using the symbol browser. The name field is mandatory, we can also add labels (to facilitate the search for the symbol), the background color of the cell and the font color.
It is possible to record an audio that will be played when clicking on the symbol, replacing the voice configured in the device.
User mode allows us to communicate through the symbols present on the board or boards associated with the user.
To access the user mode, we must go to the "User mode" tab and press the "User" button, if there is only one profile, it will automatically enter the screen where the board is displayed, but if it has more profiles, you must select a profile before .
The user using the board must select one or more symbols to make a sentence. When selecting a symbol, it will be read aloud and added to the top bar. When you have finished assembling the phrase, you must press the play button to read the full sentence.
We can exit user mode by pressing the icon represented by a padlock at the top right of the screen 3 times or by entering our PIN (depending on the configured option).
The application in both the web version and for mobile devices did not present unexpected closing failures, but the following points were observed that can affect the reliability of the product:
- In the Android version: in one of the tests, when the test user was authenticated and pressed one of the options in the “Frequently Asked Questions” menu (access from “Menu” ), when going back with the device's navigation button, the user was redirected to the home page and wanted to access the "Menu" button again, but it was impossible, because when clicking on said button the application did not perform any action. Therefore, the test user had to close the application and open it again to access the menu options.
- In the case of the application for mobile devices, an Internet connection is not necessary, unless you need to authenticate and have the features associated with your account.
- Internet connection is required when using the web version.
During a period of one week, we have verified that the consumption of the battery and the consumption of data in the Internet connection is minimal.
Versatility and compatibility
SymboTalk is a free cross-platform application:
- Access via a web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Microsoft Edge, and more) on a computer running Windows, Linux, macOS (requires macOS 11.0 or later and a Mac with the Apple M1 chip), and more .
- Access via mobile app at smartphone o tablets with Android OS version 4.4 or later.
- Access via mobile app on iPhone running iOS 12.0 or later and iPad running iPadOS 12.0 or later.
As characteristics to guarantee the confidentiality of the data, the authenticity of the identity and access to the application, we observe the following:
- The user can create an account in the application, the authentication will be email and password. In addition, it is possible to authenticate with a Google account and it is not necessary to enter a password.
- We have the option to delete our account and all our data from the server (Menu > Settings > Privacy settings > Delete account). In addition, we can delete our backups (Menu> Settings> Synchronization settings> Delete backup). However, when trying these options, the message “Deletion done” appeared, but the account was still active and we did not receive any email or something more reliable than a simple message displayed on the screen.
Remember that the delete account and delete backup options are only available if the user has previously authenticated.
This application helps different groups that, due to their physical or cognitive characteristics, have communication difficulties such as people with ASD, Down Syndrome, ALS, Aphasia, Apraxia, Stroke, Dementia, Alzheimer's, etc.
As we have mentioned before, SymboTalk is an augmentative and alternative communication system. People with severe speech or language difficulties rely on this type of communication for social interaction. If a person is able to speak to a certain degree (residual speech) we should encourage them to do so and complement their form of communication with this type of SAAC to help them communicate and thus improve their quality of life.
SymboTalk is a useful and easy-to-use tool that allows you to create and modify alternative communication boards in which completely personalized symbols (pictograms) can be added for users with different characteristics, abilities and needs.
We have certainly found this app to be useful and easy to use. It provides a simple and customizable interface to the user's needs.
While it is true, there are small bugs that need to be fixed, but none of them significantly affect the use of the application.
This tool is useful both for end users (people with communication difficulties), and for their families, caregivers, friends, among others, to facilitate or complement communication between them.
- SymboTalk has different ways to solve doubts or problems that the user may have: contact via email, frequently asked questions section, YouTube channel and Facebook group.
- Thanks to the accessibility button, it is possible to configure the font size and activate the high contrast.
- To use SymboTalk you do not need to subscribe to the paid version.
- We can create multiple profiles.
- SymboTalk has more than 30 supported languages for speech (Voice Synthesis) and it is possible to obtain more languages by downloading an external application.
- Default and user-customized dashboards can be downloaded in jpg and pdf format.
- There is the option to record an audio associated with a symbol (pictogram).
- The interface language is not available in all languages. Among the most prominent languages for the interface we have: English and Spanish.
- We found a problem in the Android version when entering Menu > Frequently Asked Questions, selecting any of the options in the list and pressing the device's "Back" navigation button, the menu button was blocked. We repeated this same test by pressing the close button (represented by an "X"), which appeared on the screen and everything worked correctly.
- The communication of data to the user when deleting their account or backup can be improved.