AppleVis Unlimited: What's New in Accessible Apps for December 2015

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Welcome to the December 2015 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

3000 (iOS, Free)

Challenge yourself to sort out how many words do you know in depth. If you can reach the highest score, you will be the king of words.

It will also help you to prepare college, university, even graduate school.

Try this game every time until you got high score over 3000, you will find yourself is vocabulary armed to do almost everything!

You can find additional definition, statistical info by review your play.

Current Version: 2.0 (July 1, 2015)

Read 3000’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit 3000's page on the App Store

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

Kid Friendly Software, developers of the Blindfold series of accessible audio games, have released three new titles during December 2015. Below are links to each app in the App Store:

Blindfold Color Crush
Blindfold Juggle
Blindfold Rummy

Focus by Firefox - content blocking & tracking protection for your mobile browser (iOS, Free)

Focus by Firefox is a content blocker for Safari that improves the privacy and performance of your mobile browsing experience by blocking analytics, social and advertising trackers. Focus by Firefox is free, open source and backed by Mozilla, a trusted brand committed to user choice and transparency.

Current Version: 1.0 (December 8, 2015)

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

Google Apps (iOS, Free)

A number of accessible apps developed by Google have been added to our App Directory this month. Below are links to each app in the AppleVis App Directory where you can learn more about them and their accessibility:

Google Keep - Your thoughts, wherever you are
Inbox by Gmail - a new email app that works for you
One Today
Snapseed
YouTube Kids

In addition, there is ongoing discussion in the AppleVis forum where people have been sharing their thoughts on the accessibility and user experience of Google’s many iOS apps. You can read these and share your own observations and opinions here.

Heathcote (iOS, Free)

Scary stories are best told in the dark!

So shut your eyes, draw up the covers, and join intrepid reporters David and Martin on this audio-only adventure.

With a story by Hellraiser comic writers Ben Meares and Christian Francis, and voice acting by Internet sensation Hunter Davis and Robert Dunne (young Rossi in ‘Criminal Minds’), Fabulae Obscurae brings you “Heathcote”.

Sixty years ago, a mysterious fire raged through Heathcote asylum, killing all 89 residents and staff.

Now, jaded investigators David and Martin return to the site and discover to their horror that the terror might not be over.

Playing time: 30-60 minutes.

Current Version: 1.0 (October 28, 2015)

Read Heathcote's AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Heathcote's page on the App Store
Listen to podcast “Heathcote for iOS: Scary Stories are Best Told in the Dark”

Logic Pro X (Mac OS X, US$199.99)

Logic Pro X is the most advanced version of Logic ever. Sophisticated tools for professional songwriting, editing, and mixing are built around a modern interface that’s designed to get creative results quickly and also deliver more power whenever it’s needed. Logic Pro X includes a massive collection of instruments, effects, and loops, providing a complete toolkit to create amazing-sounding music.

Current Version: 10.2 (August 25, 2015)

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

Naturespace - Relax Meditate Focus Sleep and Rest with 3D Sounds, sonic therapy for anxiety and stress relief (iOS, Free with In-App Purchases)

If sound quality matters to you, (and it should) then you owe it to yourself to try Naturespace. Naturespace is the ultimate headphone listening experience! Our immersive and spatially accurate 3D recordings from the most beautiful places on earth will relax and rejuvenate you like nothing else. They truly must be experienced to be believed, which is why this app is free. Six free sounds, no ads, and a vast catalog to choose from make it easy to find out what millions of others have discovered; the amazing world of holographic sound!

Naturespace is the perfect tool for help with sleeping, relaxing, studying, focus, ptsd, claustrophobia, traveling, meditating, or any time you need to change your thought patterns. Get in touch with the natural world and understand yourself better. It's that simple.

Current Version: 5.1 (June 7, 2015)

Read Naturespace's AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Naturespace's page on the App Store
Listen to podcast "NatureSpace: Delving in to the World of 3d Sound"

Product Hunt - the best new products, every day (iOS, Free)

Discover the best new apps, games, books, and podcasts, every day.

Product Hunt is a place to share and geek out about your favorite things.

  • Stay up-to-date with the latest in tech, books, games, and podcasts
  • Submit and vote for your favorite products with your friends
  • Discover and listen to the best podcasts
  • Join LIVE Chats with the world’s most interesting makers

Current Version: 3.1 (December 18, 2015)

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

Rock On - A SongPop Adventure (iOS, Free with In-App Purchases)

Crank up the volume and join the band — it’s time to ROCK ON! Quiz yourself on the best of Rock in this spin-off of SongPop, the award-winning music trivia game.

Embark on an adventure through the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll! Listen to clips of Rock hits and guess the correct artist or song. Shred your way through Classic Rock, Heavy Metal, Punk Rock, Pop Rock, Indie Rock, and more. Master each level and become a Rock Legend!

Current Version: 2.0.1 (December 2, 2015)

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

TimeBuzz (Apple Watch, US$0.99)

The TimeBuzz app makes it possible to feel the current time through vibrations of the Taptic Engine on the Apple Watch. The app is designed especially for visually impaired people. With this app you can discretely get to know the current time without the need for the time to be pronounced.

The app translates the time into a pattern of long and short vibrations whereby it will first buzz the hours and then the minutes. In between every sequence of vibrations there will be a short pause to be able to separate the hours and minutes from each other.

Read Time Buzz's AppleVis Watch App Directory entry for more information
Visit TimeBuzz's page on the App Store
Listen to podcast "An In-Depth Look at TimeBuzz; an Apple Watch App that Allows You to Tell the Time Using the Taptic Engine"

Yahoo Video Guide - From searching to streaming in seconds! (iOS, Free)

Spending too much time jumping between streaming services to find something to watch? Stop searching and start watching!

There’s a better, simpler way to find something to watch on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO and more! With Yahoo Video Guide you can quickly find and stream all your favorite TV shows and movies in one beautiful app.

The streaming app to rule them all:

  • Search from one place across Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO GO and more!
  • Tap “Stream Now” to watch instantly from all your favorite streaming apps
  • Need help deciding? View summaries, casting and ratings before you watch
  • Never miss what’s new on streaming with weekly updates
  • Find the perfect movie or show with our fun GIF-powered Mood Picker

Yahoo Video Guide supports over 30+ services: Amazon Video, Hulu, Netflix, HBO GO, ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC, Xfinity, YouTube, A&E, BET, Cartoon Network, Cinemax, Comedy Central, Disney, Food Network and more!

Current Version: 1.0 (December 10, 2015)

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

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

iOS
Mac
Apple Watch

Notable App Updates

Google+ - interests, communities, discovery (iOS, Free)

Discover amazing things created by passionate people.

  • Explore your interests
  • Group things you love into Collections
  • Join Communities of people around any topic
  • Connect with people who share your interests
  • Build a home stream filled with amazing content

Current Version: 5.1.0 (December 15, 2015)

Changes in Version 5.1.0

Although not specifically mentioned in the release notes, this app is now far more accessible with VoiceOver than previously

Mentioned changes are:

  • You can now reply to comments
  • View +1s, comments, and reshares on posts
  • Ability to download photos
  • Follower count is back on profiles
  • Swipe to mark notifications as read.

Read Google+'s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Google+'s App Store page

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: 4.0.0 (December 30, 2015)

Changes in Version 4.0.0

With the release of version 4.0.0, Twitter for Mac is now much more accessible for blind and low vision users. Changes listed in the release notes are:

  • 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
Listen to podcast "Exploring the Improved Accessibility in Twitter for Mac 4.0"

visor - magnifier (iOS, US$1.99)

Visor - magnifier is a magnifying glass and reading aid for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Enlarge difficult to read text by 4 magnification levels and change contrast to 5 different viewing modes. Optionally, turn on the LED flash of your device to help you see better in low-light conditions.

Current Version: 1.6 (December 15, 2015)

What's New in Version 1.6

We've added the ability to freeze and save images, all while still being able to zoom and enhance the contrast: Swipe up the yellow plus button and reveal the camera to freeze and save an image.

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

Recent News and Views

The AppleVis Community Names the Apps and Developer that were its Golden Apples of 2015

By AppleVis | December 28, 2015

We are pleased to announce the results of the fourth annual AppleVis Golden Apple Awards.

Since their launch in 2012, the AppleVis Golden Apple Awards have afforded blind and low vision users an opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the hard work and dedication which developers have put into making great and accessible iOS and OS X applications during the given year.

Read More: “The AppleVis Community Names the Apps and Developer that were its Golden Apples of 2015”

Apps to Help You Get the Most From Your iOS Device

By AppleVis | Updated December 21, 2015

Welcome to the Winter 2015 update of AppleVis' list of apps to help you get the most from your iOS device. When we first published a version of this list in 2013,our focus was on creating a list especially for new users of iOS devices; as we revised the list this year, however, it became increasingly clear to us that a lot of the apps we recommended would be just as useful to experienced users as they would be to those new to iOS. Thus, it is our hope that this list will have value for both new and experienced users alike.

In keeping with the original spirit of this article, we have specifically chosen apps which will both help the new user become familiar with iOS and quickly get up and running with their new device. Apps listed here represent a variety of different tasks, from social networking, to word processing, to gaming, to apps developed specifically for users who are blind or who have low vision--and everything in-between. It is also important to note that the apps listed below represent only a taste of what is available and accessible to VoiceOver users; near the end of this article, we present a listing of resources where you can find even more great and accessible apps.

Read More: “Apps to Help You Get the Most From Your iOS Device”

Sketchy Rumors Claim Accessibility Products Coming to the Apple Store in Early 2016

By AppleVis | December 21, 2015

AppleInsider is reporting on claims coming out of Japan that the Apple Store will begin selling accessibility-related peripherals and accessories for OS X and iOS devices in early 2016.

According to this report, there is no information on what actual products will be featured:

It is not yet clear what products or product categories Apple plans to market, though the company's current device lineup supports a broad range of hardware, from "Made for iPhone" hearing aids to braille displays.

The Made for iPhone hearing aids mentioned above would appear to be something that could sit comfortably in the Apple Store, along with alternative input devices for Mac users and large print keyboards for low vision users. Looking beyond this, you quickly move into the territory of what is more likely to be wishful thinking.

Read More: “Sketchy Rumors Claim Accessibility Products Coming to the Apple Store in Early 2016”

Apple Releases tvOS 9.1 with Siri Search for Apple Music and Compatibility with Apple’s Remote App

By AppleVis | December 8, 2015

Apple has today released tvOS 9.1 for the fourth-generation Apple TV.

According to AppleInsider, tvOS 9.1 adds support for Siri searches in the Apple Music service and support for Apple's official Remote app both on iOS devices as well as the Apple Watch.

Read More: “Apple Releases tvOS 9.1 with Siri Search for Apple Music and Compatibility with Apple’s Remote App”

Apple Releases watchOS 2.1 with new Language Support and Bug Fixes

By AppleVis | December 8, 2015

Apple has today released watchOS 2.1 for the Apple Watch. This update brings bug fixes and under-the-hood improvements, as well as language support for Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Malay, Portuguese, and Vietnamese.

According to AppleInsider, this release includes:

  • Adds support for Right-to-Left user interface
  • Adds ability to switch between Latin and Hindi numerals for Arabic
  • Adds a new complication for Islamic and Hebrew calendars
  • Adds support for Siri and dictation in Arabic (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates)
  • Adds support for dictation in English (Malaysia), Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Portuguese (Portugal) and Vietnamese
  • Resolves an issue that could prevent events from updating in the Calendar complication
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent the time from displaying in Power Reserve mode
  • Addresses issues that could prevent third-party apps from launching
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent third-party app icons from displaying correctly
  • Fixes an issue that could cause instability when changing the system language

Read More: “Apple Releases watchOS 2.1 with new Language Support and Bug Fixes”

Apple Releases iOS 9.2 With a Number of Fixes for Blind and Low Vision Users

By AppleVis | December 8, 2015

Apple has today released iOS 9.2, bringing with it some new features and improvements across the operating system.

For blind and low vision users, Apple has made significant progress towards addressing the accessibility-related bugs present in iOS 9.1.

As always at this point, it is worth noting that our testing of iOS 9.2 has been limited and that it is impossible for us to test all devices, apps, and use cases. Consequently, it is possible that your own experience with this release may be different to our own and that additional fixes or new bugs may exist. With this in mind, we would greatly appreciate your help in ensuring that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible. If you spot any accessibility changes in iOS 9.2 that we do not have listed on this page, please do let us know in the comments.

Accessibility Bugs Believed to be Fixed in iOS 9.2

  1. This release appears to have resolved a number of connectivity issues with Bluetooth devices. For example, turning VoiceOver on/off whilst connected to a Bluetooth device appears to no longer cause that device to be disconnected; and after putting a Braille display into Airplane mode and turning Bluetooth back on, displays now auto-connect as they should.
  2. VoiceOver now again announces the time when you press the Power button to wake your device.
  3. Sending audio iMessages is once again completely accessible.
  4. Problems with the Raise To Speak feature appear to have been resolved.
  5. Owners of the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus can now use 3D Touch on the left of the Home Screen to open the App Switcher.
  6. Using the VoiceOver Actions Rotor on a Contact icon on the Proactive Search screen will no longer occasionally result in the information from another contact being used/shown.
  7. The occasional crashes in the News app when using the ‘Say All’ gesture appear to have been fixed.
  8. The Search field in the Mail app is now back to being treated by VoiceOver as a single element.
  9. The 3 finger swipe once again works reliably for moving between pages within Home screen folders.
  10. There is no longer an extraneous audio tone when using the 3-finger swipe in the Notifications Center.
  11. There is no longer a missing button label when viewing downloads in progress in the Music app.
  12. Removed the extraneous text present on calendar names when adding a new event to the native Calendar app.

Read More: “Apple Releases iOS 9.2 With a Number of Fixes for Blind and Low Vision Users”

Apple Releases OS X El Capitan 10.11.2 with Stability, Compatibility and Security Improvements

By AppleVis | December 8, 2015

Apple has today released OS X El Capitan 10.11.2, bringing with it a series of bug fixes and improvements.

According to Apple's release notes via MacRumors, this update improves the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac and includes the following changes:

  • Improves Wi-Fi reliability
  • Improves the reliability of Handoff and AirDrop
  • Fixes an issue that may cause Bluetooth devices to disconnect
  • Fixes an issue that prevented Mail from deleting messages in an offline Exchange account
  • Fixes an issue that prevented importing photos from an iPhone to a Mac using a USB cable
  • Improves iCloud Photo Sharing for Live Photos

At the time of posting, one change that we know of for VoiceOver users is a fix for the bug in Mail where messages would sometimes display oddly. Messages may take a second to load, but they should now always open as expected instead of landing the user on a scroll area or toolbar.

Read More: “Apple Releases OS X El Capitan 10.11.2 with Stability, Compatibility and Security Improvements”

Papa Sangre and Other Audio Games from Somethin’ Else to be Discontinued and their Game Engine Made Open Source for Others to use

By David Goodwin | December 8, 2015

It’s been announced on Twitter that Papa Sangre, the popular and highly-regarded iOS audio game, will get one more update and then be removed from the App Store the next time after this that something causes it to break.

Tweet 1: 1/2 — Sad and Happy to Say. Sad: the next update of Papa Sangre will be our last. The next time it breaks we will take it off the app store.

Tweet 2: 2/2 Happy: we plan to open source the Papa Engine (still the best audio VR engine in the world) and our binaural audio games.

Tweet 3: 3/2 (sorry) — I believe abandonware shouldn’t be totally abandoned. Others can make use of it.

Papa Sangre was one of the earliest inductees into the AppleVis Hall of Fame and has been featured by Apple in an App Store collection of iOS apps popular with VoiceOver users, so there is no doubt that many will see this as sad news.

In reply to a question from us on Twitter, it’s been confirmed that active development will cease on all of the current audio games from Somethin’ Else and not just Papa Sangre.

However, the second of the tweets quoted above suggests that this may not be all bad news, as an opportunity will exist for others to use the technology that powers this game.

Read More: “Papa Sangre and Other Audio Games from Somethin’ Else to be Discontinued and their Game Engine Made Open Source for Others to use”

This Month in Podcasts

Exploring the Improved Accessibility in Twitter for Mac 4.0

In this podcast, David Woodbridge takes a look at how the official Twitter app for Mac OS X has become far more usable with VoiceOver following the recent release of version 4.0.

Listen to "Exploring the Improved Accessibility in Twitter for Mac 4.0"

Demonstration and Review of Apple’s Smart Battery Case for the iPhone 6 and 6s

In this Podcast, David Woodbridge shares his thoughts on the Smart Battery Case which Apple recently released for the iPhone 6 and 6s.

Listen to "Demonstration and Review of Apple’s Smart Battery Case for the iPhone 6 and 6s"

An In-Depth Look at TimeBuzz; an Apple Watch App that Allows You to Tell the Time Using the Taptic Engine

In this podcast, David Woodbridge takes an in-depth look at TimeBuzz, a new Apple Watch app that makes it possible to feel the current time through vibrations of the Taptic Engine on the Apple Watch.

When introducing TimeBuzz to the AppleVis community, the developer offered the following description of how it works:

The app is designed especially for blind and low vision users to allow them to discretely get to know the current time without the need for the time to be pronounced.

If you open the app on the Apple Watch there will be a large button with the text 'Tap to buzz the time'. When you tap this button the app will start buzzing the current time. It will translate the time into a pattern of long and short vibrations whereby it will first buzz the hours and then the minutes. In between every sequence of vibrations there will be a short pause to be able to separate the hours and minutes from each other. You will feel a distinctive vibrating buzz when opening the app and when you start the buzzing of the current time so that you know when you opened the TimeBuzz app or tapped the button on the screen. To make it easier to start the app you can select a TimeBuzz complication on your watch face so you can start the app directly from the watch face.

The patterns of the vibrations can be chosen by selecting a buzz pattern which are named after famous clocks around the world. They range from simple to understand to more advanced shortened vibrations.

TimeBuzz is a US$0.99 download from the iTunes App Store

Listen to “An In-Depth Look at TimeBuzz; an Apple Watch App that Allows You to Tell the Time Using the Taptic Engine”

AppleVis Extra 35: Making the Most of your iOS Device

In this month's AppleVis Extra, Jamie Pauls, Thomas Domville, Alex Hall, and Jeff Bishop take a look at this year's list of AppleVis-recommended apps to help you get the most from your iOS device.

Next, Jamie sits down with Scott Davert to take a look at some possible stocking stuffers for the iOS or Mac enthusiast in your life. Recommended products include:

  • Belkin Screen Cleaning Kit
  • Anker PowerCore+ mini (Premium Lipstick-Sized 3350mAh Power Bank)
  • AmazonBasics Apple Certified Lightning to USB Cable - 4 Inches (10 Centimeters)
  • AMPLIFYZE - TCL PULSE Bluetooth Enabled Vibration and Sound Alarm
  • RII 66 Bluetooth Keyboard
  • SpeedDots tactile screen protectors and cases
  • Sound Pod Bluetooth speaker

Listen to “AppleVis Extra 35: Making the Most of your iOS Device”

Blindfold Games

This month, David Woodbridge recorded a number of podcasts on titles from the ‘Blindfold’ series of audio games:

Blindfold Air Hockey
Blindfold Breakout
Blindfold Pong
Blindfold Vee Ball

NatureSpace: Delving in to the World of 3D Sound

In this podcast, Scott Davert walks us through NatureSpace, an app providing soundtracks to many different types of sounds. This app is a free download in the App Store with in-app purchases. Headphones or a very good set of speakers are recommended to appreciate the full sound quality of the files demonstrated in the ap.

Listen to “NatureSpace: Delving in to the World of 3D Sound”

iPad Pro: Unboxing, Description and Initial Setup

In this podcast, Khalfan Bin Dhaher unboxes an iPad Pro, gives us its physical description and then walks us through the initial setup process.

Listen to “iPad Pro: Unboxing, Description and Initial Setup”

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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