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Wiretap Lets You Use VoiceOver With a Square Reader

Posted by Jarrod Whaley on

While the name we've given it suggests a specific usage, our Wiretap splitter might be the most versatile product in our line. It adds a stereo output to the existing stereo output in the audio jack of your smartphone—and it preserves the mic input too. The most apparent use case here is sharing audio with a friend, but this configuration provides numerous other capabilities that may not be quite so apparent at first glance. To that end, we're writing a series of posts about all the useful things that Wiretap and our other products can do.

In our last post, we detailed a way to use Wiretap to record your Xbox games. Today we'd like to talk about one way in which Wiretap is helping to make smartphones more accessible to people with disabilities—namely, those with visual impairments.

Blind users of smartphones enjoy a number of accessibility features already, such as Apple's VoiceOver technology (a "screen reader" which reads the contents of the screen auditorially using a computerized voice). VoiceOver works very well, but it does have its limitations. For example, users who wish to use VoiceOver while attaching a Square reader are out of luck: the phone believes that the Square device is a set of headphones, and so the VoiceOver output is not sent to the speakers. Put another way, the Square reader uses both the "audio" outputs and the "mic" input to transmit data, leaving no connections left for VoiceOver's audio.

Our Wiretap splitter solves this problem by maintaining the existing connections your smartphone already has, and also adds a second headphone jack. Visually impaired users can simply attach their Square reader to the side of the Wiretap splitter with the debossed "mic" icon, and then they have a second jack to which they connect headphones or speakers. Now VoiceOver will work perfectly, even when a Square reader is in use!

We think it's great that Wiretap is helping people in ways we didn't completely imagine when we designed the product, and we're particularly happy that it is making smartphones easier to use. If you've found a cool way to use one of our products in a way that makes your life easier, send us an email and tell us about it!

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