AppleVis Unlimited: What's New in Accessible Apps for January 2016

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Welcome to the January 2016 edition of AppleVis Unlimited, our monthly series which aims to highlight what's new and noteworthy in the accessible app landscape. Below, you'll find a recap of the best content posted to AppleVis - from new app entries, to app updates, to podcasts and blogs. 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

Aipoly Vision (iOS, Free)

Aipoly is an object and color recogniser that helps the blind, visually impaired, and color blind understand their surroundings. Simply point your phone at the object of interest and press the large toggle button at the bottom of the screen to turn on the artificial intelligence.

Aipoly will keep running and recognising objects until you switch to a different tab, or toggle the Aipoly button.

Aipoly is suited for both the visually impaired and the sighted.

  • Recognise Objects: Aipoly can recognise a wide variety of objects at a rate of three times a second. Simply switch on the Aipoly button and it will start identifying what it sees through the camera. Recognising objects does not require an internet connection.
  • Recognise Colors: Aipoly can tell up to 954 colors apart. The list can also be simplified to a few through the settings if you are unfamiliar with most color names.
  • Teach Aipoly: Aipoly will learn more object if its users help it by writing descriptions of what it sees. This is a good way for sighted users to help the visually impaired. Press the pencil button once object recognition is toggled on to write a description of the object or scene in focus. Detailed descriptions work best. Over time, Aipoly will begin learning about more items thanks to its users.
  • VoiceOver: For those with VoiceOver switched on, simply access the text above the toggle button. For those who are sighted and do not require VoiceOver, you can access the Speaking Voice setting to listen to what the app can see.
  • Voice Modes: You can switch between different voice modes in the settings page. Ranging from standard, which says one word at a time, to advanced for multiple words, to likelihood and fun, which express the likelihood of the item viewed and add additional captions respectively.
  • Intelligent Torch: When Aipoly detects darkness through the camera, it will automatically turn on the torch so you don't have to worry about lighting. When the light is switched on, it will turn the torch off.

Current Version: 1.1 (January 26, 2016)

Read Aipoly Vision’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Aipoly Vision's page on the App Store

Blindfold Horserace (iOS, Free with In-App Purchases)

Blindfold Horse Race is a fully accessible audio game where you race your horse against other horses.

In Blindfold Horse Race, you walk or run your fingers on the screen, as if the horse is running. You are in post 2, and the other horses are in post 1 and 3. Once you hear the starting bells, race as fast as you can, and you may win.

Races are from 1 furlong to 1 mile, and there are several types of racetracks. There's even a steeplechase race where you must jump over fences and steer your horse left and right.

Current Version: 1.1.3 (January 29, 2016)

Read Blindfold Horserace’s AppleVis iOS App Directory for more information
Visit Blindfold Horserace’s page on the App Store

Blindfold Word Games (iOS, Free with In-App Purchases)

Blindfold Word Games is a fully accessible word game for both sighted and visually impaired people, designed for rapid audio play.

Word Games includes the games Word Ladder, Word Flick, Hangman and Unscramble.

The objective of Blindfold Word Ladder is to convert one word into another word by changing only one letter a a time. For example, to change the word 'COLD' to 'WARM', you can first change the third letter of COLD from 'L' to 'R', making the word CORD. Then change the second letter of 'CORD', so the new word is 'CARD', then the fourth letter of 'CARD', so the new word is 'WARD'. Finally change the last letter of 'WARD', so the new word is 'WARM'.

In Word Flick, you have a 16 randomly chosen letters arranged in a 4 by 4 grid. You build as many words as possible using adjacent letters. The longer the word, the higher you score. For example, if the top line has the letters C, A, T, S, and the second line has the letters O, L, D, X, you could form CATS from the first line and COLD using the C from the first line, and the O, L, D from the second line.

In Unscramble, you must unscramble the word. The letters L, E, H, O, L unscramble to become the word HELLO.

In Hangman, you must discover the word before using up your moves.

Current Version: 1.3.7 (January 29, 2016)

Read Blindfold Word Games' AppleVis iOS App Directory for more information
Visit Blindfold Word Games' page on the App Store

Delight Games Premium (iOS, Free)

With Delight Games Premium, you have access to the entire library of Delight Games interactive novels. The first volume is always free for series books, so you can find the stories that are right for you. Then choose from either a subscription package which opens up the entire library, or simply pay as you go for the books you're really interested in.

Highlights include:

  • 1,000,000+ words of story, with more on the way! Countless choices and hours of fun await!
  • Game progress stays in sync across all of your iOS devices.
  • Currently 27 interactive novels in a single library with a consolidated scoreboard.
  • Unlock achievements by finishing books, getting the highest score, or by making interesting choices.
  • Extra checkpoints on longer novels.
  • Whenever a new sequel comes out, you get it as an update to your premium game before anywhere else on the store.
  • The satisfaction of knowing you are supporting the production of future interactive novels.

Current novels included:

  • 6 Volumes of Wizard's Choice (entire series)
  • 10 Volumes of Zombie High
  • 3 Volumes of Detective's Choice
  • 2 Volumes of Bionic Bikini
  • 3 Volume of Witch's Choice
  • The Deep Space Huntress stand-alone novel
  • Pirates Never Die stand-alone novel
  • Super Hero's Choice stand-alone novel
  • … and more to come!

Current Version: 2.03 (January 21, 2016)

Read Delight Games Premium’s AppleVis iOS App Directory for more information
Visit Delight Games Premium’s page on the App Store

Football Chairman Pro (iOS, US$3.99)

Build your own football empire!

Create a football club from scratch, starting as a tiny non-league team, and see if you can make it through seven divisions to the very top..

See your players win play-offs, cup competitions and eventually conquer Europe!

Hire and fire managers, develop your stadium, negotiate transfers, contracts and sponsorship deals... while keeping the fans and the bank manager happy.

Football Chairman Pro is the latest and most in-depth version of the chart-topping Football Chairman series.

Current Version: 1.1.3 (January 20, 2016)

Read Football Chairman Pro’s AppleVis iOS App Directory for more information
Visit Football Chairman Pro’s page on the App Store

Interact - Do more with your Contacts! (iOS, US$4.99)

Interact empowers you and your contacts to get more done in less time, with features like group management, one-tap contact creation, and more you won't find in the built-in iOS Contacts app.

  • Harness Your Contacts and Groups
  • Create Contacts Easier with the Scratchpad
  • Communicate Faster
  • And More

Current Version: 1.0.1 (January 21, 2016)

Read Interact’s AppleVis iOS App Directory for more information
Visit Interact’s page on the App Store

Lifeline: Silent Night (iOS, US$0.99)

The hearts and imaginations of countless players worldwide were captured when the original Lifeline took the App Store by storm and became the #1 Top Paid Game, and now Taylor needs your help again in Lifeline: Silent Night!

Acclaimed author Dave Justus returns with a suspenseful new story that plays out in real time, delivering notifications throughout your day. Keep up as they come in, or catch up later when you’re free. You can even respond to Taylor directly from your Apple Watch or iPhone lock screen without launching into the app. Your choices shape the story as you play.

Simple actions can have a profound effect. Complete any single path in the game and then go back and see what happens when you make a different choice.

Lifeline: Silent Night is a deep, immersive story of survival and perseverance, and it’s up to you to save the White Star before it’s too late for its intrepid crew. The fate of Taylor, and the world, is in your hands!

Current Version: 1.2 (December 18, 2015)

Read Lifeline: Silent Night’s AppleVis iOS App Directory for more information
Visit Lifeline: Silent Night’s page on the App Store

Lifeline 2 (iOS, US$0.99)

The original Lifeline took the App Store by storm, reaching #1 Top Paid Game on iPhone and Apple Watch in 29 countries. Its compelling mix of real-time storytelling and Dave Justus’s suspenseful writing continues to capture the imaginations of countless players worldwide.

Lifeline 2 raises the bar with a new story almost twice as long as the original, with many more choices and paths to explore. Lifeline 2 features a 28-minute original soundtrack and is fully optimized for watchOS 2, delivering the best Lifeline experience on Apple Watch yet.

The second story in the Lifeline series connects you with Arika, a young woman on a deadly quest to avenge her parents and rescue her long-lost brother. Your choices will keep her alive and help her succeed as she faces mortal danger on her way to a final, fateful showdown against the forces that threaten all of humanity.

Lifeline stories play out in real time. As Arika travels to complete her quest, notifications deliver new messages throughout your day. Keep up as they come in, or catch up later when you’re free. You can even respond to Arika directly from your Apple Watch or your iPhone lock screen, without launching into the app on your phone.

After completing any story branch, you can rewind to earlier parts of the story, or speed through parts you’ve already read. See what happens when you make a different choice: will you guide Arika virtuously, or cut corners to gain an edge? Seemingly simple actions can deeply affect the outcome.

Arika’s story, and the fate of the world, depend on your judgment. You will face the consequences together, because Arika is relying on YOU.

Current Version: 1.4 (December 2, 2015)

Read Lifeline 2’s AppleVis iOS App Directory for more information
Visit Lifeline 2’s page on the App Store

Meetup – Groups near you that make community real (iOS, Free)

Meetup makes community real. Our app helps you see what’s happening with groups of people near you that share your interests. And now it's easier than ever to stay up to date on the go with Meetup for Apple Watch. Want to start a new Meetup and become an organizer? Set up your subscription and pay right from the app. As always, Meetup is free to download and free to use for members.

People meetup around the things that matter most to them. Popular Meetups include:

  • Tech Meetup groups
  • Moms Meetup groups
  • Dads Meetup groups
  • Fitness Meetup groups
  • Hiking Meetup groups
  • Career and Networking Meetup groups
  • Support Meetup groups
  • Book Club Meetup groups
  • Photography Meetup groups
  • New in Town Meetup groups
  • Dog Meetup groups
  • Language Meetup groups
  • and 1000s more!

Current Version: 5.0.7 (January 26, 2016)

Read Meetup’s AppleVis iOS App Directory for more information
Visit Meetup’s page on the App Store

One Button Travel (iOS, US$2.99)

One Button Travel is a new interactive fiction adventure by the award-winning team behind Rules! Play a story that unfolds with the choices you make, in real time!

One Button Travel is a gripping journey to a mysterious future exploring social questions not unlike those we face today. At 55000 words, it is a true interactive novel, with branching story-lines and decisions that shape the player's destiny. And for those moments when you don't feel like reading, your device is ready to read it to you.

Are you ready to explore a strange new world? Pack your bags, you're going on a trip! Or are you?

Current Version: 2.0.4 (January 27, 2016)

Read One Button Travel’s AppleVis iOS App Directory for more information
Visit One Button Travel’s page on the App Store

Quizoid: Trivia Quiz Game with Multiple-Choice-Questions (iOS, Free with In-App Purchases)

8,600 Questions | 17 Domains | No Login Needed | Offline Playable | Regular Updates | Voice Over Support

The Game: Quizoid is a classical multiple-choice trivia quiz game, featuring up to 8,600 questions (6,000 for free + 2,600 via in-app-purchases) from fields of knowledge like Arts & Literature, Astronomy & Space, Chemistry, Entertainment, Famous People, Food & Beverage, General Knowledge, Geography, History, Language, Mathematics, Medical Science, Nature, Politics, Religion, Science & Technology and Sports. In the game you can choose between three lifelines: a Fifty-fifty, a 2-Shots and a Change-Question joker.

Additional Features: Quizoid can be played offline anytime, making it a great time killer on road-trips or while waiting for the train. Quizoid features full VOICE OVER support, making it accessible for everyone and is designed for iPhone and iPads, including Retina displays. Whether you have an iPhone 4/4S, 5/5S/5C, 6/6Plus or an iPad, Quizoid will fit the screen perfectly in high resolution. No black bars or low-res graphics!

All questions are updated on a regular basis. We read every reported question and update or remove errors as soon as possible. Oh, and the questions are very hard. Don't blame us, if you don't know a thing...

Current Version: 1.5.5 (January 14, 2016)

Read Quizoid’s AppleVis iOS App Directory for more information
Visit Quizoid’s page on the App Store

Space Encounter (iOS & Mac OS X, €9.90 (current promotional price))

Pilot, are you ready to fight the alien oppression with Space Encounter? During an immersive gaming experience, you'll face many enemy fleets, coming from all the universe! Choose your ship and your equipment and dash yourself into the battle! Shoot first and destroy everything that's moving.

Test yourself with the Total War fighting all the alien races one by one, or select a single campaign to fight in a specific part of the universe, or train facing single alien waves.

Start as simple pilot; fight; accumulate points and victory after victory you'll climb the high intergalactic command's hierarchy, till you'll become its supreme leader!

Read Space Encounter's AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Read Space Encounter's AppleVis Mac App Directory entry for more information
Visit Space Encounter's page on the iOS App Store
Visit the developer’s website for more information on the Mac OS X version of Space Encounter

ThirdEye Technologies Inc. (iOS, Free)

We believe in empowering visually impaired individuals. ThirdEye restores autonomy to visually impaired persons’ lives by enabling them to recognize everyday objects. All the user has to do is touch one button and our technology verbally returns back whatever object the user is looking at within seconds (for example a “5 US Dollar Bill” or an “Ibuprofen bottle”). We have a database of millions of images that is being updated every day and thus our product is able to recognize a wide array of images very specifically.

ThirdEye is currently free to download!

Features:

  • Press the “Recognize This” button while holding your phone in front of an object you want to recognize, and then wait a couple of seconds for ThirdEye to return the object to your ear. The button is large, and occupies half the screen so it’s easy to find and press.
  • Press the raise volume button on the side of your phone while the app is on to Activate the “Recognize This” feature.
  • Every time you press a button, ThirdEye will read aloud the button you pressed (to ensure that you pressed the button you wanted to).
  • Returns a Alert Message warning you if the item you recognized could be potentially dangerous (such as medicine) and to ask for help before taking the medicine. (Note: Please note that this alert message will be triggered on every potentially dangerous item simply because of the sheer number of potentially dangerous items; we have done our best to try to add as many objects as we think could be dangerous, but you should use your own judgement)
  • Currently, the read this feature works with larger text, but it is still under development. We're still displaying this text, but if you press it, you'll hear a message saying "this feature is till under development."

Current Version: 1.0 (December 14, 2015)

Read ThirdEye’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit ThirdEye’s page on the App Store

ZCast - Live. Audio. Groupcasting. (iOS, Free)

ZCast is a new way to podcast. Whether you’re creating your own or just listening in, there is something for everyone.

Starting your own podcast is easy. Simply choose a topic and you’re ready to broadcast. Or if you prefer, you can schedule a cast for a later date. You can even invite people from your Twitter network to cast with you, and group-cast to your collective followers.

If you prefer just to listen, ZCast displays all live and upcoming casts, making it easy for you to enjoy what’s happening at the moment or subscribe and listen later. As a listener you can chat with the speakers and other listeners, providing commentary in real time. You can also like and share the cast with friends.

Current Version: 1.1.5 (January 21, 2016)

Read ZCast’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit ZCast’s page on the App Store

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

iOS
Mac
Apple Watch

Notable App Updates

BlindSquare (iOS, US$29.99)

BlindSquare makes you sense what's around you. The only thing you need to do is listen.

BlindSquare is a new solution that combines the latest technology to help the blind with their daily lives. It has been developed in collaboration with blind people and carefully field tested. You need either an iPhone or an iPad to get started. It also supports some additional accessories to enhance the experience.

How does it work?

BlindSquare uses GPS and the compass to locate you. It then gathers information about the surrounding environment from FourSquare. BlindSquare has some unique algorithms to decide what information is the most relevant and then speaks it to you with high quality speech synthesis. “What's the most popular café within 200 meters radius? Where is the post office or the library?”

Current Version: 3.41 (January 30, 2016)

Changes in Versions 3.40 and 3.41
  • NEW: the internal browser that opens when you open the website of a location from the Place Summary screen now has three buttons at the bottom of the screen: Back and Forward to go to the previous or next page and Safari to open the current page in Safari.
  • CHANGE: Open Street Map information has been updated. This should improve the user experience in areas where intersections were not announced reliably in the past.
  • CHANGE: When you perform a search, BlindSquare no longer filters out places. This should result in more matches. However, this filter is still active for automatic announcements to prevent announcement of garbage data from Foursquare. BlindSquare will only announce a place automatically if at least five different people have checked in there.
  • FIX: Importing places now works again under iOS 9.
  • The BlindSquare instructions under Other, Help have been updated.
  • NEW: the internal browser that opens when you open the website of a location from the Place Summary screen now has three buttons at the bottom of the screen: Back and Forward to go to the previous or next page and Safari to open the current page in Safari.

Read BlindSquare's AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit BlindSquare's page on the App Store

Downcast (iOS, US$2.99)

A powerful, complete, and easy to use podcast player that will help you manage and listen to podcasts the way you want to.

Current Version: 2.9.9 (January 29, 2016)

Changes in Version 2.9.9

This release includes a number of VoiceOver improvements:

Enhancements

  • CarPlay support! (More info: http://downcastapp.com/2016/01/21/CarPlay.html)
  • Play position scrubber usability improvements
  • VoiceOver - Double tap play position scrubber to jump to a specific time
  • VoiceOver - Improved announcement for play position scrubber
  • Improves resuming of downloads
  • Performance & battery consumption improvements

Bug Fixes

  • Fixes iCloud Syncing issues leading to deletion of local episodes
  • Fixes iCloud Syncing deadlock issue when first enabling
  • VoiceOver - Fixes magic tap gesture
  • Fixes random disabling of play/pause command and other remote commands
  • Fixes continuous play issues
  • Fixes issue causing video not to display on externally connected screens
  • Fixes issue where transitioning to video episode could cause Downcast to pause
  • Fixes issue where now playing info wasn't cleared from lock screen/control center
  • Fixes a few layout issues on player view
  • Fixes issue causing sleep timer to reset to 1min
  • Improves interactivity of URL textfield on the Import UI
  • Import UI now remembers your last destination podcast choice

Read Downcast's AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Downcast's page on the App Store

Lyft - Taxi & Bus App Alternative (iOS, Free)

Need a lift? Try Lyft for a friendly, affordable ride whenever you need one. Request a ride with the tap of a button, and get picked up by a nearby community driver who’ll take you to your destination within minutes. Yep, it's that easy.

  • Split the cost of a ride with friends. It’s easy, fast, and secure.
  • All Lyft drivers pass comprehensive background and DMV checks.
  • Drivers are rated by passengers and only the highest-rated drivers are allowed on the road.
  • Lyft provides a first-of-its-kind $1M liability insurance for total peace of mind.

Current Version: 3.26.0 (January 25, 2016)

Changes in Version 3.26.0

In this update, we’ve made improvements to VoiceOver and a few other behind-the-scenes bug fixes.

Read an AppleVis forum topic about the accessibility of Lyft
Visit Lyft's page on the App Store

Hangouts (iOS, Free)

Use Hangouts to keep in touch. Message friends, start free video or voice calls, and hop on a conversation with one person or a group. Say more with photos, stickers, and emoji.

  • Include all your friends with group chats for up to 150 people.
  • Say more with status messages, photos, maps, emoji, stickers, and animated GIFs.
  • Turn any conversation into a free group video call with up to 10 friends.
  • Call any phone number in the world (and all calls to other Hangouts users are free!).
  • Connect your Google Voice account for phone number, SMS, and voicemail integration.
  • Keep in touch with friends across all your devices.
  • Message friends anytime, even if they're offline.

Current Version: 7.0.0 (January 29, 2016)

Changes in Version 7.0.0
  • Hide message content in notifications (Turn off Show preview setting to hide the content).
  • Accessibility improvements.
  • Fixed intermittent delay in video startup.
  • Contact names included in Google Voice notifications (Sync contacts setting must be on).

Read Hangouts’ AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Hangouts’ page on the App Store

Roger - Talk with your favorite people, walkie-talkie style (iOS, Free)

Roger is a walkie-talkie-style app that makes it simple to keep in touch with the people you care about most, no matter where they are. It’s free and easy to use—tap to talk, tap to listen.

  • Stay in touch with family and friends abroad no matter the time.
  • Easy day-to-day communication with your nearest and dearest.
  • Keep connecting with friends and classmates after school.

Current Version: 1.0.6 (January 24, 2016)

Changes in Version 1.0.6
  • You can now see when someone is listening or talking to you in real time
  • We've made it more obvious how to enable Glimpses
  • Playback now works better than before
  • We have made some small improvements to accessibility
  • It’s now easier to add a username

Read Roger's AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Roger's page on the App Store

Twitter (Mac OS X, Free)

Twitter is the best way to connect, express yourself and discover what’s happening.

  • Connect with people and your interests to get unfiltered access and unique behind-the-scenes perspectives.
  • Express yourself with photos, videos and comments.
  • Discover what's happening. Get real-time stories, pictures, videos, conversations, ideas, and inspiration all in your timeline.

Current Version: 4.0.2 (January 27, 2016)

Changes in Version 4.0.2

Twitter for Mac is now much more accessible to VoiceOver users. Other changes include:

  • This release fixes major issues with your app. Please update now.
  • Inline video playback - You’ll see videos play directly in your feed.
  • GIFs support - See animations without leaving your timeline.
  • Group Direct Messages - Create and receive private notes with up to 50 people.
  • Mute - Silence specific accounts so you no longer see them in your feed.
  • Today Center Widget - Get your Twitter Highlights right on your desktop.
  • Dark Theme - Now you can see the world in black or white.
  • Updated design - Get the latest improvements to icons, buttons, and interactions.
  • Quote Tweet - Add your two cents to any Retweet.

The release notes also invite users to e-mail suggestions or feedback about Twitter’s Mac app to mac-feedback@twitter.com.

Read Twitter’s Mac App Directory entry for more information
Visit Twitter’s page on the Mac App Store

Recent News and Views

Announcing the Founding Members of the AppleVis Podcast Team

By AppleVis | January 31, 2016

We are pleased to announce the people who are the founding members of our new AppleVis Podcast Team. Each person brings a wealth of podcasting and Apple product experience to the table, and we are sure that they will help to make the AppleVis Podcast an even more informative voice in the space that we occupy.

The founding members of the AppleVis Podcast Team are:

Rather than try to summarize each podcasters’ unique accomplishments and qualifications, we felt it best to invite them to introduce themselves in their own words:

Read More: “Announcing the Founding Members of the AppleVis Podcast Team”

Apple Brings Podcasts to the Fourth-Generation Apple TV with the Release of tvOS 9.1.1

By AppleVis | January 25, 2016

Apple has today released tvOS 9.1.1 for the fourth-generation Apple TV, bringing with it bug fixes, performance tweaks and a new Podcasts app.

According to MacRumors, tvOS 9.1.1 focuses on under-the-hood improvements and the addition of the new Podcast app.

No release notes are currently available from Apple, so the complete list of improvements and changes in this update is unknown.

Read More: “Apple Brings Podcasts to the Fourth-Generation Apple TV with the Release of tvOS 9.1.1”

Apple Releases iOS 9.2.1 With Bug Fixes and Security Improvements

By AppleVis | January 19, 2016

Apple has today released iOS 9.2.1 to the public, bringing a number of bug fixes and under-the-hood improvements to the operating system.

According to Apple's release notes via MacRumors, iOS 9.2.1 includes:

security improvements and bug fixes, including a fix for a significant Mobile Device Management issue that affected enterprise customers.

Based on our testing of the two iOS 9.2.1 betas which preceded this public release, it does not appear as though there are any accessibility-specific improvements in iOS 9.2.1. However, it is also worth noting that we did not identify any new accessibility bugs in this release, and that the focus across the board appears to have been on under-the-hood optimizations.

Read More: “Apple Releases iOS 9.2.1 With Bug Fixes and Security Improvements”

Apple Releases OS X 10.11.3 El Capitan With Bug Fixes and Security Improvements

By AppleVis | January 19, 2016

Apple has today released OS X El Capitan 10.11.3, bringing with it a series of bug fixes and under-the-hood improvements.

According to Apple's release notes via MacRumors, “OS X 10.11.3 includes unspecified bug fixes and security updates”.

Based on our testing of the betas which preceded this public release, it does not appear as though there are any accessibility-specific improvements in OS X El Capitan 10.11.3. However, it is also worth noting that we did not identify any new accessibility bugs in this release, and that the general focus of this release appears to have been on under-the-hood improvements.

Read More: “Apple Releases OS X 10.11.3 El Capitan With Bug Fixes and Security Improvements”

Managing your Finances from your iOS Device: a Snapshot of how I Believe Things are now, and what I hope they Could Become

By Mike Taylor | January 17, 2016

Until 3 or 4 years ago, I did most of my financial dealings over the phone or using my bank’s website. Although more recently I have used the app for 99 percent of my dealings involving finances (in fact, I prefer the app more than the website), the app has some problems. Due to the world population going more mobile than ever before, financial institutions as well as other industries are forced to embrace the digital age or get left behind. But what is the result for blind iOS users, and how can things change for the better?

These are my own views as a totally blind iOS user, although I am interested to find out how other users find money management through their iOS device. Please feel free to comment and confirm or squash my suspicions. I also apologise in advance, because the politics surrounding the arena of accessibility go further than the title of this post, I haven’t edited these out though as I believe them to be just as important so hope you can appreciate and comment on these points if you would like to.

Read More: “Managing your Finances from your iOS Device: a Snapshot of how I Believe Things are now, and what I hope they Could Become”

Accessibility is not a 'Feature', and Developers Should Never Treat it as Such

By Michael Hansen | January 14, 2016

Update, 1/15/2016: I received the following response from Lifesum's Twitter account. Needless to say, this is a very encouraging development:

Dear Michael, our sincere apologize for this, we can assure you that our answer was never intended to go out as a standard response directing you to UserVoice. We are investigating our communication process to make sure this won’t happen again. Our developers are also reading your blog post to see what’s needed to be able to implement VoiceOver. Thank you for your input!

The original article from 1/14/2016 is below.

When I've contacted developers about accessibility issues with their iOS apps, I've usually received substantive and sincere responses. Such was my experience when I recently contacted the developers of Tile - Find and track your lost phone, wallet, keys, anything, a product which allows one to keep track of frequently-misplaced items via Bluetooth tracking devices. Obviously, this type of app has huge potential for blind users, but the companion iPhone app has a number of accessibility issues as of the date of publication.

When I reached out to Tile's support team on Twitter, I promptly got a very sincere response--and on a Saturday, no less! The representative I spoke with validated my concerns, passed my feedback on to others in the company (including the CEO), and even gave me an e-mail address to where I could send more detailed feedback and an audio recording demonstrating the issues. I was floored.

All in all, Tile's response was what every blind iOS user could want: a company who valued accessibility and wanted to make their app better for everyone. I see stories like Tile's all the time; in one of the most notable examples, Workflow - Powerful Automation Made Simple actually won an Apple Design Award for its outstanding accessibility.

But not every advocacy story has such a happy ending. Such is the case with Lifesum - Healthier living, better eating, more movement, a wellness app whose description says won Editor's Choice in the App Store in both 2014 and 2015.

Read More: “Accessibility is not a 'Feature', and Developers Should Never Treat it as Such”

The Guy in the Spider’s Web… An Overview of Creating a Website with WordPress and a Screen Reader

By Niall Gallagher | January 14, 2016

This blog post is going to focus on providing an overview of creating a website, and discussing the usability and accessibility of the WordPress software. For those who feel they do not have the technical skills required to complete such a task, don't worry, it is very easy to create a website on the internet.

The entire process of creating a website can be completed in a matter of minutes, as there are only 3 necessary steps. The first and second step are by far the most straight forward, and you will spend a lot more time on the third, you will understand why if you read on.

Read More: “The Guy in the Spider’s Web… An Overview of Creating a Website with WordPress and a Screen Reader”

Small Treasures: A New Mac Mini and Dropbox Protect my iPhone Universe

By Morgan | January 13, 2016

My digital world is beautiful, in large part, because I have been able to collect and protect the memories and experiences of a lifetime. I have huge electronic piles of my own writing, sound files from when my son was growing up, a massive library of accessible books, along with thousands of old radio shows and other valued mementos. I have recordings of my brother and sisters singing "The Signs of New Math" in the mid-1960's and I have oral histories of both my parents. I have audio recordings of lectures, plays, and some of the many speeches I have delivered. My large trove of small treasures has moved from reel-to-reel tape, to cassettes, to floppies, to writable CDs, and finally to hard drives.

When it comes to protecting my precious memories, I worry quite a bit. Bad things happen to good data. When I studied computer science, we were constantly reminded that there were only two kinds of computer users; those who have lost data and those who will. In my world view, there is no absolutely secure way to store information. If you write everything to a hard drive, it will fail. If you copy it to a second drive, the transfer will fail and leave you with two corrupted disk images. If you have successfully duplicated your primary drive, there will be a fire, a break-in, or a nuclear mishap. In almost every backup scheme, there are numerous points of potential failure.

Read More: "Small Treasures: A New Mac Mini and Dropbox Protect my iPhone Universe"

Apple Rumors: the 2016 Edition

By mehgcap | January 2, 2016

Last year, I did a detailed round-up of Apple rumors for 2015. I had so much fun writing that post that I wanted to do it again this year, especially with all the exciting things (possibly) in the pipe. Here, then, is your 2016 Apple rumors round-up as of right now… Warning: there’s some really cool stuff in here that may cause you to drool uncontrollably. Got your napkins ready? Good, let’s get started!

Read More: “Apple Rumors: the 2016 Edition”

This Month in Podcasts

Beginners’ Guide to the iPhone

In this series of introductory podcasts, Thomas Domville discusses and demonstrates various features of the iPhone. New in the BGI series this month:

An Overview and Demonstration of the iPad Pro, Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil

In this podcast, David Woodbridge gives us a physical description and introduction to the iPad Pro; along with Apple’s Smart Keyboard and Pencil.

David notes that to perform the Quick Nav VoiceOver command with the Smart Keyboard you use the Left/Up/Right keys, and not Up/Down as it is with a standard bluetooth keyboard (this is due to the moulding of the Up and Down keys into one key). In addition, because the Smart Keyboard has no Escape key, Control+Option+Accent performs the Escape VoiceOver function (this can be used on bluetooth keyboards as well).

David shows us how to activate and use Split Screen mode using either the keyboard or touch screen. David also demonstrates some of the multi-tasking gestures which can be used on an iPad.

David demonstrates how the Apple Pencil can be used in conjunction with the Handwriting mode which is available to VoiceOver users as a method of inputting text.

David concludes by showing us how to use the Smart Keyboard as a cover for the iPad Pro.

Note that the Smart Keyboard and Pencil are sold separately to the iPad Pro.

Listen to “An Overview and Demonstration of the iPad Pro, Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil”

ReadKit: Meeting all of your RSS Needs on the Mac

In this podcast, Jonathan Mosen demonstrates ReadKit, an RSS reader and more for the Mac. In addition to demonstrating the app, Jonathan covers what RSS is and why he prefers it over getting feeds from Twitter.

ReadKit is a $9.99 purchase in the Mac App Store, or you can download a free 14 day trial from the developer’s website.

Listen to “ReadKit: Meeting all of your RSS Needs on the Mac”

A Quick Look at the 3rd Party Apps on my Apple Watch, by David Woodbridge

In this podcast, David Woodbridge gives us a quick look at some of the 3rd party apps that he uses on his Apple Watch. These include: CNN, Just Press Record, Navigon, Downcast, Drafts, Comfort, Tic Tac Toe, Tweetings, Newsify, Hangman, TimeBuzz, Animal Watch, Phone Battery, Trash Day, Pandora, Calculator Watch Pro Free, Dictationary, QuickSwitch, Decibl, DoublePost, and UnHand Me.

Listen to “A Quick Look at the 3rd Party Apps on my Apple Watch, by David Woodbridge”

Introducing Apple’s Native Podcast App for the Fourth-Generation Apple TV

In this podcast, David Woodbridge introduces us to the new Podcast app from Apple which became available on the fourth-generation Apple TV with the recent release of tvOS 9.1.1.

David starts by giving us a quick look at the iOS version of this app before moving on to his Apple TV. Aided at times with the Remote app on his iPhone, David walks us through the layout of the new Apple TV Podcast app; accessing unplayed podcasts; listing "My Podcasts”; searching, subscribing and playing podcasts; and shows how the play position between iOS and TV is synchronized.

Listen to “Introducing Apple’s Native Podcast App for the Fourth-Generation Apple TV”

Listening to Audiobooks on the go with Audible’s iOS App

In this podcast, David Woodbridge gives us an in-depth discussion and walk-through of one of his most used iOS apps, Audiobooks from Audible.

With an Audible membership, this app provides access to your purchases from Audible’s selection of 180,000+ titles—from best sellers to classics, and everything in-between.

David demonstrates previewing and purchasing a book from audible.com via Safari on the Mac, and then goes through a fairly extensive demonstration of the Audible app on an iPhone 6s.

Listen to “Listening to Audiobooks on the go with Audible’s iOS App”

ZCast for iOS: Live and Scheduled Podcasting Made Easy

In this podcast, Jonathan Mosen introduces us to ZCast - Live Audio Groupcasting, a free iOS app that claims to offer a new way to podcast.

Starting your own podcast is easy. Simply choose a topic and you’re ready to broadcast. Or if you prefer, you can schedule a cast for a later date. You can even invite people from your Twitter network to cast with you, and group-cast to your collective followers.

If you prefer just to listen, ZCast displays all live and upcoming casts, making it easy for you to enjoy what’s happening at the moment or subscribe and listen later. As a listener you can chat with the speakers and other listeners, providing commentary in real time. You can also like and share the cast with friends.

Listen to "ZCast for iOS: Live and Scheduled Podcasting Made Easy"
Visit ZCast's page on the App Store

AppleVis Extra #36: Marty Schultz of Kid Friendly Software

In this month's edition of the AppleVis Extra, Michael Hansen, Thomas Domville, and Alex Hall speak with Marty Schultz of Kid Friendly Software. Schultz is the developer behind the wildly popular Blindfold series of accessible audio games, with over 25 games currently in the App Store and many more exciting titles on the way.

Listen to “AppleVis Extra #36: Marty Schultz of Kid Friendly Software”

I Can Feel it: An Overview of Using Braille Displays with iOS Devices

In this update to his previous podcast on this topic, Scott Davert gives us some general information about braille displays as they relate to their use with iOS devices. He then talks about and demonstrates the pairing of a braille device; iOS options and settings; navigational commands, text input; and how to get additional help.

Listen to “I Can Feel it: An Overview of Using Braille Displays with iOS Devices”

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

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