The Marvin shell

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The Marvin shell is a simple, custom-built home screen for eyes-free use.* Marvin provides a single-touch user interface that not only provides access all Android applications on your device but also easy access to some Eyes-Free ‘mini apps’ such as an application that announces the time and date, or your current location.

The Marvin shell can be set to be your default home screen so that when you press the Home button, you will be taken to the Marvin shell home screen rather than the default Android home screen. You can still return to the default Android home screen by holding the back button for three seconds.

Marvin’s interface is based on the Stroke Dialer input method based on the standard phone keypad layout. When you are using the Marvin shell, wherever you touch on the screen is the HOME button (keypad button number 5), with each of the buttons surrounding the HOME button set to perform a particular action. For example, if you touch the screen and stroke up to select Eyes-Free keypad number 2, you will hear the current time and date, or if you select Eyes-Free keypad number 8, you will be taken to a screen where you can quick-launch Android apps.

The Marvin shell also announces what screen you are on when you place your finger on the touchscreen. In our previous examples, touching the screen and moving in the direction of keypad number 2 (time and date) will announce “Home", then "1.56pm, June 17” while navigating to the quick-launch Android apps option announces “Home. Applications.

The following table summarises the action that will occur for each of the Eyes-Free keypad numbers.

Eyes-free keypad number Action
1 Announces current signal strength and WiFi information
2 Announces date and time
3 Announces battery information, including if the device is charging
4 Launches a customisable shortcut screen
6 Announces your current location using GPS coordinates and your current mobile phone tower location
7 Launches the VoiceMail application
8 Fast launcher for Android apps
9 Activate/deactivate airplane mode

*The shell is named Marvin in honour of the Paranoid Android from Douglas Adams’ famous science fiction book, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

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