The Tap Tap Saga: My Take

Remember when I wrote about a revolutionary new iPhone app called Tap Tap See? It allows blind individuals to snap a picture of an object, and to have that object identified in a spoken prompt. I think they use a combination of human eyes and computer analysis to determine what might be in a particular picture, and they tend to be quite accurate.

Well, not surprisingly to me, they’ve now determined that the app can no longer be free if they wish to remain in business. They’ve opted to create a set of subcription plans: 1 that allows for 100 pictures for $7.95, and another with unlimited picture-taking for a month that costs $9.95.

Now, I understand a lot of the reaction. Many are a bit upset by this, feeling they’ve been denied a service that they have basically come to expect.

It’s probably analogous to what the newspapers are going through as they try to begin charging for their online content, after allowing free access during the early Internet glory days. As someone said in reference to that, and I suppose it’s applicable here: it’s difficult to put the toothpaste back into the tube.

Others say that the issue is that we’re having to pay for something, object recognition, that sighted people of course don’t have to cover. So, I’m going to respond a little to those particular sentiments.

Just as many argue with regard to newspaper, we have to continue to support the people who pour their efforts into creating, or allowing us to access, content. These things don’t just happen, and nothing is free. I’m going to support this app and the people who have worked hard to develop such a powerful yet very easy to use piece of software.

It marks the first time ever that I can collect my money from a cashier, move myself out of the flow of store traffic, and take pictures of each bill to ensure that they are as I think they are. Not that I’ve ever been stiffed by a cashier, and of course taking a picture may not always result in a perfect response, however it does significantly increase my confidence and thus my independence.

Second, to the issue of paying for things that most everyone has access to without so doing. Well, I actually have to pay about $15 a month in order to be able to hear. I usually buy about 3 packs of hearing aid batteries from our local drugstore, with such regularity that they actually stock them in bolt in order to give me a discount. Do I enjoy having to pay to hear? No, but I deem it something I must have.

I wouldn’t say that one has to have this app, but if you want to be able to take pictures and have them explained in this way, well…

Finally, and this is one I definitely understand, some have said they simply can’t afford it. Well I’m not a rich person, but I tell you what. If you have a hard time paying for that and write me privately, I’ll hit you up with an iTunes card. I know what it’s like to be that down, and believe I should help others because many helped me while I was there.

So those are my thoughts on this issue. I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinions as well, but I hope ultimately that we will continue to support this and similar projects that have the potential to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities overall.


5 thoughts on “The Tap Tap Saga: My Take

  1. I completely understand why the developer needs to start charging, and on the whole, I fall into the third category: I just can’t afford it, but I think you may have overlooked another important reason why some of us are upset. I’m a fairly new iphone user, and my skills with the camera are far from ideal. I tried to do a bit of practice with tap-tap-see, and while a couple descriptions were very nice and helpful, most were virtually useless. So, my chief argument about the paying for tap tap see is, assuming I could afford it, how would I be assured that I was getting my money’s worth? A good example that didn’t happen to me personally, but happened to a good friend of mine and illustrates my point. She took a picture and was told that it was of fabric. She already knew it was fabric, but the feedback she got didn’t describe color, style or anything helpful. So, would it be worth it to pay for a description of that caliber? I thought about trying to get the 100 pictures for $7.95, but with my poor camera skills and the less than helpful descriptions I’ve gotten in the past, I don’t think it would be a worthwhile investment; probably less than half of the descriptions I’d get back would be helpful enough to be worthwhile, so by that logic, I paid $8 and maybe got 50 pictures described, if I was lucky. I hope this makes sense. As I said, I don’t begrudge the developers for needing to charge, but unless there’s a drastic improvement in descriptions, I can’t justify paying for the service.

    • This is a good point. Perhaps they could have some sort of demo period with which one could practice. I wasn’t good at getting adequate descriptions first, but I eventually got enough of a hang of it that it tells me what things are well. They’re usually not gonna be really descriptive, mostly saying that it is “a white material”, and such. What I think it’s best at is telling which items are inside of a box, such as food. I do appreciate your comment, as I hadn’t thought about that.

  2. The app provides a great service. It’s too bad it is unaffordable to some people who benefit from it. Maybe Tap Tap See could introduce a version with ads, so every X number of photos, you would have to hear an ad. That version could be cheaper or maybe even free.

  3. I moderate a weekly interactive Twitter interview series called #AccessChat and on Tuesday, 11-19 I will be having Tap Tap See as my guest to answer any and all questions about the changes to their app. I am one that feels the need to support what they are doing for the blindness community but also I think that they could have gone about doing it a different way. #AccessChat takes place every Tuesday @ 8:00 PM EST.

    • I have seen and learned some things from that chat. Thanks for taking the time to read. A main reason why I write is to get people to think about the issues, even if our stances may differ.

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