Friday, August 9, 2013

Making Tablets Client-Friendly

Most CART providers do the lion's share of their work one-on-one, with a single client reading from their laptop, which is usually mounted a foot or so away on a tripod. There's an unwritten social convention that it's not polite to reach over and fiddle with someone else's laptop, and I've found that virtually all my clients respect that rule without having to be asked. But what about when a CART provider sends their realtime feed to a tablet, which the client holds in their hands, often sitting at some distance away from the provider, or moving around the room while the provider stays in one place? For some reason, that simple act of holding a screen rather than viewing it while mounted on a tripod changes the whole situation. When people hold tablets, they're tempted to play with them; it's practically a law of nature. And if you don't want your client to have free rein over everything accessible via your tablet, what should you do? Fortunately, there's a very simple solution: Lock it up.

I use an app called Friend Lock Pro on my Samsung Galaxy Tab II. It's simple, aesthetically attractive, and only $1.99.

This is what the homescreen of my tablet looks like when it's unlocked. Notice the large dolphin icon. That's a link to the Dolphin Browser, which offers an aesthetically attractive full screen mode for realtime CART streaming. I made the icon nice and big using Giganticon, and set Dolphin Browser's homepage to the URL I use for realtime captioning via Streamtext. To get to the captions, it's only a single button push away. When I'm ready to hand the tablet to the client, I push the lock icon and get this:

Now Dolphin Browser is the only app accessible to the client. They can page through my homescreens and eventually find my personal screen (though I have blank homescreens on either side of the main one as a sort of buffer):

But if they try to access my email, they only get a notification that the app has been blocked. All notifications are also turned off, so the client won't get annoying (and possibly confidential) pop-ups from my email, calendar, or other apps while they're trying to read the captions. To unlock the tablet, I just have to draw a simple design in Friend Lock Pro's unlock screen, and the tablet is mine again. I can use it to access student schedules, display prep material, log my steno practice, or navigate to my next gig, using my own personal apps. Then I can lock it back up again and hand it on to the next client, secure that none of that information is accessible to them. Since installing this app, I haven't had to fret or worry about what the client is doing with my tablet when they're out of my sight. I can't recommend it highly enough.

I'm not a paid endorser for this app or anything; I'm just really, really happy with it! If anyone knows of equivalent apps for iOS devices, feel free to let me know about them in comments, and I'll pass them along to my iPad-loving colleagues.


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