A review of AGOGO: An Amazing Antidote to Boredom and More

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Today we have a great little article for you;
A review of AGOGO: An Amazing Antidote to Boredom and More

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The business desk team
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A Dan Thompson contribution

A review of AGOGO: An Amazing Antidote to Boredom and More

By Deborah Kendrick

http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw150705

Whether it was in response to blindness or attention issues, impatience, or
just plain insatiable curiosity, I have long held a certain anxiety related
to boredom. I have always worried about having time on my hands-an hour, two
hours, 15 minutes-with nothing to do. Of course, the more Zen-like readers
in our audience are undoubtedly shaking their heads, reminding me that I
could meditate, have a mindful moment, be still-and I really do try to do
that sort of thing, but I’m a task-driven sort of creature and need to know
that I’m accomplishing, being productive, moving forward in some tangible or
intangible manner. Waiting for a meeting to start, the bus to arrive, my
name to be called in the waiting room of a physician or accountant-each of
these is a block of time needing to be filled. There was a time when I
schlepped braille books or magazines and, later, various computer devices
with me as protection against that boredom. Countless friends and colleagues
talk about the same ongoing dilemma-the need to have “something to do” while
on a bus, a train, a plane, or otherwise on literal or metaphorical hold.

For the last few years, the iPhone has been my unflagging antidote to
boredom. With a variety of apps, I could listen to news, books, music, and
podcasts. It couldn’t get any better than that, I thought-until it did!

Launched publicly just a year ago, the AGOGO app has propelled media lovers
to a whole new level. And, better still, although its creators didn’t know
about blind and visually impaired media consumers before the app was
launched, they quickly learned about us and enthusiastically embraced the
necessary concepts to bring us more fully into the fold.

*What is AGOGO?

AGOGO


https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/agogo-listen-to-news-audio/id632350781?mt=8

is like a party to which you can invite all of your favorite content. You
build your own Go Channel and add to it all the things that you most enjoy
hearing. You can have news and interview programs from NPR, alongside news
and interview programs from various TV networks, alongside podcasts on
anything from cooking to poetry to science, alongside your favorite music
and comedy and, well, anything else audio. You can browse areas of interest
on AGOGO-art or books or comedy or technology-and immediately add them to
your own Go Channel; or you can browse and just listen for the moment. You
can have radio, TV, and podcast favorites all piled together in your Go
Channel-say, “Diane Sawyer,” “60 Minutes,” “All Things Considered,” and “The
Daily Show,” all gathered together with, say, podcasts from the Poetry
Foundation, the BBC, and AppleVis. When you play your Go Channel, content is
constantly refreshed, so if there has been a new TED Talk or edition of
Fresh Air produced since the last time you opened the app, it will be right
there waiting for you.

You can listen to music or programs and podcasts about music. You can listen
to book reviews or snippets of new books or programs about books and the
publishing industry. You can listen to news commentaries or hear
text-to-speech renditions of small chunks of information from your favorite
newspapers. You can browse the various channels already established as
categories or simply listen to your own Go Channel or music collection (the
one on your own iPhone or a service like Spotify if you are a subscriber).

*The AGOGO Story

J.D. Heilprin, AGOGO founder, is a media aficionado and entrepreneur who has
been responsible now for four startups, all centered on a theme of compiling
available media content for easier consumer access. His first was Rio, a
player that brought music together in a single electronic location-not
amazing by today’s standards, but before the iPod it was revolutionary. He
later conjured a system that would pull together all legally downloadable
television programming into a single application, which launched as Flicker
and subsequently became TV_COM.

AGOGO grew out of what Heilprin saw as a growing need for consumers to have
media content of all varieties and to have it on the go, to combine media
access with mobility. He wired the dashboard of his car with an iPad, an
iPhone, and an Android device and drove from San Francisco to New York,
curious to see how much of his favorite media (and with how much complicated
maneuvering) he could enjoy hearing while on the road. The resulting
brainstorm was that there had to be an easier way!

If you are driving a car or riding your bike or otherwise engaged in ways
that make looking at a screen less than advisable, there needed to be a way
to hear your favorite news and music and podcasts and programs without
constantly pressing buttons, changing screens, or even navigating among
multiple devices. Heilprin describes AGOGO as a kind of sophisticated tuner.
It indexes content and enables you to point to exactly what you want to hear
without myriad excess steps involved in getting there.

*Embracing Accessibility

The AGOGO public beta launched in the fall of 2013 and its official public
launch was March 27, 2014.

The intervening months attracted a voluminous amount of user feedback, and
many of those feedback messages were from people who are blind or visually
impaired.

“I wish I could say that I was smart enough to have set out to build
something that was a completely accessible universe of programming to the
blind community,” Heilprin said, “but it didn’t happen that way.” Blind
people were not on his radar screen at all. AGOGO grew out of the desire to
create something that people could use without looking at the screen, and
the surprise was that there was this whole population of consumers who never
looked at the screen and who loved the product.

Heilprin was so enthusiastic about the concept of accessibility that he and
his team decided to move it to the top of their list of priorities and to
immerse themselves in learning how to do accessibility right.

They engaged in conversations with many of those original testers who had
provided feedback. Eventually, realizing that the San Francisco Lighthouse
was in the same neighborhood as AGOGO headquarters, they reached out to
Lighthouse CEO Bryan Bashin, and board president Joshua Miele (both of whom
are blind) and formed a wonderfully productive partnership.

In collaboration with the San Francisco Lighthouse, AGOGO has conducted
usability testing, organized focus groups, and even secured some blindness
training for a few of their engineers. AGOGO engineers pushed themselves to
use AGOGO without looking at the screen, using VoiceOver exclusively to see
what pitfalls in navigating the app might occur.

*Content Categories

In addition to categories of content that center on books, music, science,
movies, and a host of other interests, AGOGO now has a channel called
Universal Access. The name might change, but the focus is thriving. You may
have noticed that earlier reference to AppleVis. It is just one of many
familiar sources of blindness and assistive technology content available in
the Universal Access channel. Want to add Triple Click Home or Blind
Bargains to your Go Channel along with the “TODAY” show and “All Things
Considered”? Adding any item with a simple tap (or double-tap in the land of
VoiceOver) is all that is required, and AGOGO will provide you with the
newest episode each time you open the app.

Heilprin says that in making AGOGO more accessible to the blind community,
his team has made the app better for everyone, and that he’s constantly
adding more improvements to his wish list. People who are blind, for
example, have requested an integrated book channel. There is an abundance of
outstanding information on books, book reviews, and book samples on AGOGO.
Heilprin’s vision, however, is that just as you can now do with music, you
could hear a review of a book, buy the book, and begin reading it, all
within AGOGO.

If you don’t have an iPhone, you can still enjoy AGOGO from your computer,
although the company is aware that the Web-based version has a few
accessibility issues remaining and is addressing them. An Android version is
also in process.

The spirit of inclusion that Heilprin and his team have poured into this
product is both commendable and wise. While they do not currently have a
blind person on the team, the website says they’re hiring. Boasted benefits
include ergonomic chairs and all the coffee you can drink! Together with an
endless stream of deliciously stimulating audio content-well, for some of us
it’s hard to imagine a better environment.

Though we never have to complain about being bored again, one more feature
Heilprin says they are trying to figure out-how to speed up the audio
content-would make this app just about perfect!

Sign up for AGOGO by visiting the site,

http://www.agogo.com/

or go to the iTunes App Store on your iOS device and search for “AGOGO.”

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