AppleVis Unlimited: What's New and Noteworthy for March 2018

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Welcome to the March 2018 edition of AppleVis Unlimited, our monthly series which aims to highlight what's new and noteworthy on the AppleVis website. Below, you'll find a selection of the best content posted to AppleVis - from new app entries, to app updates, to the latest news and podcasts. For easier navigation, the major sections of this post are at heading level 3, and each individual item is at heading level 4.

New and Noteworthy App Entries

AMI-tv (iOS, Free)

Canada Only

AMI presents the first and only video app made especially for the blind and partially sighted community.

Access AMI-tv and AMI-télé original content wherever you go and on demand.

Watch AMI content for free. No subscription required. A wide selection of AMI-tv and AMI-tele content is available at your fingertips with new content added weekly.

Enjoy full AMI shows, documentaries and digital shorts from across Canada.

The apps’ fully accessible features ensure easy navigation, a convenient

video, frequently asked questions and described video integrated into all of the content.

Current Version: 1.0.1 (March 13, 2018)

Read AMI-tv's AppleVis App Directory entry for more information
Visit AMI-tv's App Store page

Blindfold Slots (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)

Blindfold Slots is a fully accessible Slot Machine casino game for both sighted and visually impaired people, designed for rapid audio play.

With Blindfold Slots, you can play on one of several machines, and bet up to 3 lines per machine. Some machines have mini games that you can play to increase your winnings.

Payoffs on the machines vary from machine to machine, but start at 1 to 1, and go up to 1 to 25,000 for really big wins. You can change the machine style include manual pull arm and electronic spin button. You can also change the way the wheels stop: automatic stopping after a few seconds, a button to stop the wheels under your control, and a button to stop each wheel independently.

Upgrades include unlimited coins and more types of slot machines with mini-games.

Current Version: 1.1.8 (March 29, 2018)

Read Blindfold Slots' AppleVis App Directory entry for more information
Visit Blindfold Slots' App Store page

Braille block (iOS, Free)

When a visually impaired person is lost sight of yellow Braille block (formal name "Visually Impaired Guidance Block") at a station or a public facility, its existence and the approximate direction is estimated by the App, and also Warning block (dotted sureface block) is detected. Furthermore, the App judges the route of Braille block and informs how to proceed.

As another function, the App recognizes a railroad track on a station platform and notifies the approximate position. Also, you can check the direction you are facing. All of these recognition results are transmitted by voice.

how to use

  1. Hold your iPhone vertically and hold down the home button. You can use the App just by tapping the screen towards the front ground. Because it is weak against the screen shake, please stop and fix the screen. The App will guide you by voice so that it is inclined from 25 degrees to 46 degrees with respect to the ground. The shutter sound does not sound because of consideration to the surroundings. Also, flash does not shine. Please cancel manner mode. VoiceOver function can be used either ON or OFF.
  2. > Using iPhone's Siri, you can also start the App by talking to “Braille block". (To use Siri, press and hold the Home button)
  3. Details of it’s use can be read by displaying the explanation screen with the "Explanation, Screen" button on the App screen. Please be sure to read it.

Current Version: 4.2 (March 6, 2018)

Read Braille block's AppleVis App Directory entry for more information
Visit Braille block's App Store page

Microsoft Soundscape (iOS, Free)

Microsoft Soundscape uses 3D audio technology to enhance your awareness of what is around you, and thereby help you get around and explore your surroundings.

Soundscape will place audio cues and labels in 3D space such that they sound like they are coming from the direction of the points of interest, parks, roads and other features in your surroundings.

You will need a pair of stereo headsets that you feel comfortable wearing outdoors. For example, bone conduction headsets, Apple AirPods and in-ear open headphones have proven to work well.

Soundscape is designed to live in the background and provide you with effortless ambient awareness. Therefore, feel free to use it in conjunction with other apps such as podcasts, audio books, email and even GPS navigation.

Key features:

  • As you walk, Soundscape will automatically call out the key points of interest, roads and intersections that you pass. These can be adjusted and turned on and off.
  • An audio beacon can be placed on a point of interest, and you will hear it as you move around. You can place an audio beacon on a point of interest that you would like to track such as your destination, a point to return to or a landmark you are familiar with.
  • “My location” describes your current location and the direction you are facing
  • “Around me” describes nearby points of interest in each of the four cardinal directions, helping with orientation. Try this out when getting off a bus or leaving a train station.
  • “Ahead of me” describes points of interest in front of you, for example when walking down the street.

Current Version: 1.1 (March 19, 2018)

Read Microsoft Soundscape's AppleVis App Directory entry for more information
Visit Microsoft Soundscape's App Store page

Sleep Talk - Sound Recorder (Apple Watch, US$2.99)

Listen to your Sleep from Apple Watch!

With watchOS 4 and the new background recording — monitor the noises that occur while your eyes are shut each night.

Using a Speech Detection Algorithm, Sleep Talk only records when it hears fluctuations in sound that mimic human vocals*. Scrubbing through hours of audio each morning, and large audio file sizes are a thing of the past.

  • Record directly from your Apple Watch (Enable Do No Disturb while using)
  • Listen and scrub with the Digital Crown through your night's sound from your Watch after you wake
  • Can be used worn, or placed charging bedside (recommended for first gen and 38mm watches)**
  • Stores the 3 most recent nights on the watch
  • Syncs in the background with the iPhone app for a full archive
  • Share the audio from the iPhone app
  • Optionally save your asleep/in bed duration to Health
  • Integrates with the sleep tracking app, Sleep Pulse 3 Motion, to provide your potential sleep talk recordings from your night with a sleep analysis. Check out the app, "Sleep Pulse 3 Motion" for more info.

Current Version: 1.03 (January 28, 2018)

Read Sleep Talk - Sound Recorder's AppleVis App Directory entry for more information
Visit Sleep Talk - Sound Recorder's App Store page

weather informant (iOS, US$4.99)

Weather Informant allows streamlined access and push notification of all NOAA National Weather Service forecast, watches, advisories, warnings observations, statements and discussions from all 122 Weather Forecast Offices and six specialty centers. This is the only application that allows access to all NWS products. It is quite simply NWS in an app ! The redundant database processes approximately 19,500 products per day.

  • All NOAA National Weather Service text forecasts, statements, discussions, observations, tables, matrices, collectives, watches, advisories and warnings
  • Valid Time Event Code (VTEC) displayed for all hazard products
  • View up to 72 hours of previous products (swipe)
  • Identifies your local NWS office based on current location (GPS).
  • Browse by individual NWS Office
  • Browse by active hazard type
  • Add favorites for any product
  • Customized favorites by product type, NWS office and keyword search
  • Enable push notification of any product favorite
  • Customized alert sounds
  • Favorite keywords are highlighted for easy viewing
  • Pinch zoom or zoom in and out
  • Hazards Around Me feature delivers active NWS watches & warnings specific to your current NWS zone based on your smartphone location (GPS).

Current Version: 1.3 (March 25, 2018)

Read weather informant's AppleVis App Directory entry for more information
Visit weather informant's App Store page

Wordfinder Game (iOS, US$1.99)

Test your skills to see how many words you can find in over 28,000 puzzles.

Features

  • Intuitive interface.
  • Fully Voiceover compatible.
  • Customizable to suit your needs.
  • No Adverts
  • No In App Purchases

Current Version: 2.0.0 (March 29, 2018)

Read Wordfinder Game's AppleVis App Directory entry for more information
Visit Wordfinder Game's App Store page

All recent app entries posted to AppleVis can be found at:

iOS
Mac
Apple Watch
Apple TV

Notable App Updates

CARROT Weather (iOS, US$4.99)

CARROT Weather is a crazy-powerful weather app that delivers hilariously twisted forecasts.

Features:

  • Beautifully minimalist weather app
  • Dark Sky’s super accurate weather data
  • Weather Underground data source available as an upgrade
  • Severe weather alert and daily summary notifications
  • Precipitation notifications via CARROT Weather for Apple Watch
  • Radar and satellite maps
  • Apple Watch app with complications
  • Customizable widget
  • 6,000+ lines of hilarious spoken dialogue
  • 32 secret locations
  • 32 achievements
  • 21 alternative app icons

Current Version: 4.6.1 (March 27, 2018)

Changes in Version 4.6

Here comes the fresh spring pollen, meatbags. To celebrate the return of your allergies, I’m bringing you my most-requested feature: push notifications!

Daily Report Notifications (Premium Club only): Opening apps is for chumps. Receive summaries in the morning and/or evening with everything you need to know about the weather for the upcoming day. You can even customize the reports to add an extra data point, like UV index or wind speed.

Severe Weather Alerts (Premium Club only): Worried about incoming blizzards, hurricanes, or ballistic missiles? Get notified of government-issued weather alerts and warnings. (U.S. only for now, more countries coming soon.)

New Content: Three new secret locations, six new alternate app icons, and hundreds of lines of new overkill dialogue for all you sick, twisted freaks out there.

But wait, there’s more!

  • Added Do Not Disturb setting for notifications, in case you want to be able to sleep right through tornado warnings.
  • Added rich notification support so you can 3D touch notifications to view more details, like the first few paragraphs of a weather alert.
  • Added temperature thresholds to the units screen, since you humans have different opinions on what counts as ‘hot’ or ‘cold.’
  • Added precipitation amounts to the hourly details view.

I also threw in some bug fixes and performance improvements because I was in such a good mood after discovering 153 new ways to torture a human being.

Read CARROT Weather's AppleVis App Directory entry for more information
Visit CARROT Weather's App Store page

Dolphin EasyReader (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)

EasyReader is a FREE accessible reading app for readers with dyslexia, low vision or blindness. Browse & download from the World's largest collection of talking book and newspaper libraries. Or copy text from anywhere on your phone & hear EasyReader read it back to you. Experience perfectly synchronized text & audio. Or for text only titles, EasyReader can add a human sounding voice of your choice. Boost comfort or contrast - choose colours, text size and highlights to suit your visual needs.

Make your books' text as big as your eyes require. Unlike other mainstream reading apps, there's no restriction with EasyReader. Zoom in with a standard 2 finger pinch or make fine adjustments with the simple sliders. There's never any blurry text or fuzzy fonts - your books' words are always crystal clear and always easy on the eye.

Navigate your books or newspapers by skipping directly to specific pages or headings. Search your book for words or phrases. Add text bookmarks or record your own audio bookmarks and return to them with ease.

EasyReader is fully optimized for use with iOS VoiceOver and iOS supported Braille displays.

Current Version: 2.0 (March 21, 2018)

Changes in Version 2.0

Version 2 makes BIG improvements to the reading experience in both audio & text-only books.

Start, stop and move around more easily. Larger play, pause, next & previous buttons are easier for the eyes & the fingers.

A brand new navigation bar makes skipping through your title more instant. Improved headings & search lists add to the enhancements. Adding & editing bookmarks is now more intuitive.

2 new libraries join the EasyReader family: NBH Hamburg (Germany) & CBB (Netherlands).

Various fixes & improvements are also rolled in, including improved support for Arabic text from Bookshare.

Read Dolphin EasyReader's AppleVis App Directory entry for more information
Visit Dolphin EasyReader's App Store page

Huboodle (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)

Fully accessible so the sighted and blind can compete on a level playing field!

With EIGHT fun games, chat functionality, and 100% voiceover accessibility, Huboodle sets the standard for social gaming. Advance your level by playing any one of the eight games and then share (or taunt) your results with friends using the in game chat!

Games included:

  • Ludopalooza
  • Simon Says
  • Trivia Trail
  • Pirate Poker
  • Barracks Blackjack
  • Word War
  • Battle Cats
  • Word Builder

New games added all the time!

Current Version: 2.02 (March 31, 2018)

Changes in Version 2.02
  • Ludopalooza - Fun multiplayer Ludo game!
  • New Simon Says Memory Game!
  • New Word Builder levels!
  • Bug fixes.

Read Huboodle's AppleVis App Directory entry for more information
Visit Huboodle's App Store page

Land of Livia (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)

Periodically escape your busy life and immerse yourself in a land yearning to be explored. Experience a game that takes the core elements of the role playing and adventure games you love and distills them into a mobile game you can play throughout the day.

Welcome to Land of Livia, an idle RPG and adventure game in which you try your luck at unlocking the mysteries of the land, discovering items of legend, and competing with your friends.

Land of Livia is a different kind of experience that is designed for relaxed gameplay to fit in around your busy day. You only need to touch base periodically to gather rewards or continue on.

Current Version: 3.2.1 (March 27, 2018)

Changes in Version 3.2.0

NEW FEATURES:

  • Inn Quests - are you constantly short on gold and wish there was a more efficient way to obtain it? Various quests can now be undertaken at Inns around the land to earn you significant amounts of gold.
  • Gem Reforging - do you struggle with gem cutting or simply want to strive for perfect quality gems? You can now combine a gem of the highest available tier with another in order to reforge it and increase its overall quality.

CHANGES:

  • Illustrious Gem Cutting now requires a recipe from Chapter 1 - existing players who have already visited Thardric Slums will have the recipe automatically added to their quest items.

ACCESSIBILITY IMPROVEMENTS:

  • The specific path to travel to locations can now be described with VoiceOver in the travel popup
  • Added commas between the runes in the accessibility label for Lore Researching guesses to improve the VoiceOver readability

BUG FIXES:

  • Fixed another bug with the number of locations being calculated incorrectly

Read Land of Livia's AppleVis App Directory entry for more information
Visit Land of Livia's App Store page

Recent News and Views

Apple Releases iOS 11.3; Bringing New Features, Enhancements and Bug Fixes

By AppleVis | March 29, 2018

Apple has today released iOS 11.3 to the public. In addition to some new features and enhancements, this release also brings a number of improvements for blind and low vision users.

Accessibility Improvements in iOS 11.3

In iOS 11.3, Apple has made continued progress towards addressing the accessibility bugs in iOS 11. Based on our testing, we believe the following issues have been resolved in iOS 11.3:

  • VoiceOver once again consistently and correctly announces the number of items on Home Screen badges (such as with the Messages app).
  • Accessing the VoiceOver Actions menu on Lock Screen notifications is once again consistent and reliable.
  • In the list of recent calls in the Phone app, VoiceOver once again announces which phone (Mobile, Home, Work, etc.) the call was to/from.
  • When bluetooth is enabled, but no device connected, the bluetooth icon in the Status Bar no longer confusingly reports via VoiceOver feedback “Bluetooth Connected”. VoiceOver now says “bluetooth on.”
  • On the Now Playing screen of the native Music app, VoiceOver no longer finds and speaks elements which are not visually present on this screen.

At the time of posting, we are unaware of any new bugs or regressions for blind or low vision users in iOS 11.3. However, as we always stress, it is impossible for us to test all devices; configurations; and use cases—so there may be improvements or regressions that we did not identify during the beta cycle. With this in mind, please do let us know in the comments of any fixes; enhancements; or regressions that you find in your own testing of iOS 11.3.

Read More: “Apple Releases iOS 11.3; Bringing New Features, Enhancements and Bug Fixes”

See also:
Apple Releases macOS 10.13.4 with New Features and Bug Fixes
Apple Releases watchOS 4.3, tvOS 11.3 and the First Software Update for HomePod

Apple Unveils New 9.7-Inch iPad with Apple Pencil Support; Along with New and Updated Tools for Schools and Teachers

By AppleVis | March 27, 2018

Apple today held an education-focused ‘Lets take a Field Trip’ event in Chicago, during which it announced a new iPad and a range of new and updated tools for schools, teachers and students.

The main feature of the new 9.7-inch iPad is the fact that it's compatible with Apple Pencil, something that's previously only been available on the iPad Pro range, and is intended to enable students to ditch their notepad in favor of an iPad.

In an early hands-on review of the new iPad, TechRadar calls it “a really impressive tablet for the general user who wants to get a great experience”:

If you just picked up the new iPad 2018 and didn't know anything about it, you'd be relatively unimpressed. It's just an iPad, with the same thick bezels and metal chassis. Sure, it looks fine, but it's nothing new.

But this tablet is designed to be two things: accessible for the consumer that doesn't want to pay loads for a tablet, and ready for the classroom. To that end, Apple has largely succeeded, although it's hard to know whether educators will be more willing to buy into the Apple classroom ideal at this price point.

Read More “Apple Unveils New 9.7-Inch iPad with Apple Pencil Support; Along with New and Updated Tools for Schools and Teachers”

Apple Proposes New Accessibility Emojis; Including a Guide Dog, a Hearing Aid and People Using White Canes

By AppleVis | March 23, 2018

This morning Unicode posted a proposal from Apple recommending the addition of 13 disability-themed emoji to Unicode’s global character standard. New emoji proposed include a guide dog, woman with white cane, man with white cane and ear with hearing aid.

The proposed emojis broadly cover four main categories - Blind and Low Vision, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Physical Motor, and Hidden Disabilities - and have been Developed in collaboration with organizations such as American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the National Association of the Deaf.

Apple states in its proposal that the addition of these new emoji would better represent people with disabilities and provide a more inclusive experience:

At Apple, we believe that technology should be accessible to everyone and should provide an experience that serves individual needs. Adding emoji emblematic to users’ life experiences helps foster a diverse culture that is inclusive of disability. Emoji are a universal language and a powerful tool for communication, as well as a form of self-expression, and can be used not only to represent one's own personal experience, but also to show support for a loved one.

This new set of emoji that we are proposing aims to provide a wider array of options to represent basic categories for people with disabilities. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all possible depictions of disabilities, but to provide an initial starting point for greater representation for diversity within the emoji universe.

According to Emojipedia, If approved, these characters would be shortlisted for potential inclusion in Emoji 12.0 which comes out in the first half of 2019. Emojipedia has a summary and image of each of the proposed new emoji.

Read More: “Apple Proposes New Accessibility Emojis; Including a Guide Dog, a Hearing Aid and People Using White Canes”

Apple Should Require Developers to Make Their Apps Accessible

By Lysette Chaproniere | March 16, 2018

Apple's commitment to accessibility has made life easier for large numbers of visually impaired and other disabled people. Gone are the days of buying a Nokia phone and having to send it away and wait weeks for Talks to be installed. We have devices that we can use immediately after buying, without installing an expensive screen reader. Our devices include accessibility settings to accommodate several different disabilities. Many app developers have admirably taken on the challenge of making their apps not just minimally accessible, but easy to use with VoiceOver and other accessibility settings.

These are all huge steps forward, and we shouldn't forget the progress we've made, or the hard work it has required. Even so, the accessibility of Apple devices is not perfect, and so long as there is still room for improvement, we should speak up when things aren't working quite as they should be. In that spirit, I want to suggest what I think would be a natural next step for Apple: they should include some accessibility requirements in their app store guidelines. They should require developers to meet minimum accessibility standards, not just for VoiceOver users, but for other disabled users who require apps to be designed in a particular way.

Read More: “Apple Should Require Developers to Make Their Apps Accessible”

This Month in Podcasts

AppleVis Unleashed March 2018: Hammerhandles

In this month's edition of AppleVis Unleashed, Thomas Domville, Randy Rusnakk and Mike Malarsie get together to talk about recent Apple news and topics of interest.

Topics featured in this podcast include:

Everything Apple revealed at its 'field trip' event
Apple Unveils New 9.7-Inch iPad with Apple Pencil Support; Along with New and Updated Tools for Schools and Teachers
WWDC 2018
Apple Releases iOS 11.3; Bringing New Features, Enhancements and Bug Fixes
20 New iOS 11.3 Features for iPhone and iPad
Apple Releases watchOS 4.3, tvOS 11.3 and the First Software Update for HomePod
AppleVis Extra 54: The Verdict On HomePod
Apple Proposes New Accessibility Emojis; Including a Guide Dog, a Hearing Aid and People Using White Canes
Apple reportedly invests in its own MicroLED screens
What is a MicroLED display?
Is wireless charging bad for your smartphone?
Apple buys iPhone and iPad digital magazine subscription service Texture
Microsoft's latest iOS accessibility app gives directions via 3D audio to those with vision impairments, recommends AirPods [Video]
Easy Chirp
iOS Tip: How to quickly track flights on iPhone and iPad

You can contact the Unleashed Team with feedback or questions at unleashed@applevis.com.

Listen to “AppleVis Unleashed March 2018: Hammerhandles”

AppleVis Extra 54: The Verdict On HomePod

In February 2018, Apple launched the HomePod, it's long awaited entry into the smart home speaker market. Just over a month later, Dave Nason is joined by Allison Hartley and Serina Gilbert to discuss their experiences with the device. Now that the dust has settled and the initial excitement of receiving a new device has calmed, how has HomePod settled into their day to day lives, and would they recommend it?

Listen to “AppleVis Extra 54: The Verdict On HomePod”

Three Easy Ways to Learn and Use Emoji Like a Pro

In this podcast, Thomas Domville shares some tips on using emoji on iOS.

Topics covered include enabling, accessing and using the emoji keyboard; setting VoiceOver to announce when it reads an emoji in text; and using the VoiceOver rotor and suggestions to speed up emoji selection and entry.

Listen to “Three Easy Ways to Learn and Use Emoji Like a Pro”

Access, Explore, Read and Learn with the Bible

In this podcast, Abby revisits the YouVersion Bible, an iOS iPad app by Life.Church.

On more than 250 million devices around the world, people are reading, listening to, watching, and sharing the Bible using the #1 rated Bible App—completely free. Over 1,000 Bible versions, in hundreds of languages. Hundreds of Reading Plans, in over 40 languages. Add your own Verse Images, highlights, bookmarks, and public or private notes.

Customize your reading experience. Access everything when you’re connected, or download specific versions for offline use.

The Bible App lets you explore the Bible with your closest friends. Share honest conversations about Scripture with a community of people you know and

Bible on the App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bible/id282935706?mt=8&at=11l4LS

Listen to “Access, Explore, Read and Learn with the Bible”

Other podcasts by Abby this month:

A Demonstration of the RealCare Baby Guide App From Realityworks
Talking Pierre - All The Fun Of A Pet Parrot With None Of The Hassle

A complete list of all podcasts posted to the AppleVis website can be found at www.applevis.com/podcasts

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