Welcome to the April 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
Birdees - Birthday Reminder (iOS, US$0.99)
Birthdays are easily forgotten. Wouldn't it be great to be reminded of the most important day of your family members and friends.
Keep an eye on all birthdays – Birdees shows a list of all upcoming birthdays. Customize the list according to your needs - do you want to see past birthdays or want to peek into the future? And for a quick overview, you can use the Today widget that shows the next four upcoming birthdays.
With Birdees, you can import the birthdays right from your contacts, but also create new birthdays without the need to create a contact first. This keeps your contact list clean, but still reminds you of upcoming birthdays.
Let Birdees remind you of upcoming birthdays - how often and whenever you like. Birdees is the only birthday app where you can set an unlimited amount of notifications. This means that no birthday will be forgotten anymore.
Use different groups for your family members, your friends and colleagues. Set your reminders on a per group basis and determine the right time to be notified for each birthday.
A long list with further improvements to make birthday management even easier is already next to me on the table. I'm constantly working on keeping Birdees up-to-date and enhancing the app. If you notice something that is not working yet or something that would make your life with Birdees easier, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Version: 3.0.5 (April 23, 2018)
Eye-D (iOS, Free)
Eye-D is here to assist the visually impaired in independent living by helping them evaluate the world around them with help of their smartphone.
It will work as your companion when you travel, help you explore places, tell you about the objects in front of you and read text whenever you need.
This is what we have built for you:
- Where Am I: Be it the busiest suburbs of Mumbai or the loneliest roads of Siberia, whether you are a common man or zombie, Eye-D will make sure that you are never lost. Tap on “Where Am I” and let the magic happen. You get to know your location with a list of landmarks nearby. Found any of the landmark interesting? Then why wait tap the preferred landmark and Eye-D guides you to it with directions (currently by opening Apple/ Google maps for navigation).
- Around Me: Stuck in an alien town? Calm down, fire the Eye-D app and select “Around Me”. Bingo!! You can now find ATM’s, Banks, Bus stops, Cinemas, Restaurants, Hospitals, Stores and even the Religious places nearby. Select the desired category and navigate to the preferred place. To ensure that you never miss out a place we have provided a search radius controller. So the next time you don’t find a relevant place nearby try adjusting the search radius to anything in the range of 500 to 5500 meters. What? Still in that alien town? Come-on find the nearest bus stop and head out.
- See Object: I’m facing the gate… No the lemon tree…. No the bike, Easy pal!! Use the See Object mode in the Eye-D app to evaluate your surroundings. Click on this mode, take a picture and Eye-D app will tell you what’s in front. So the next time you are standing at the window use the See Object mode to check what’s happening on the other side. In case you missed the description the first time simply swipe right to hear again.
- Read Text: We designed this feature so that next time your visit a restaurant or want to get a novel for you friend you won’t have to ask anyone for help. Open read text mode, click a picture and Eye-D app will read the text in front you. You can swipe right to hear the text again in case you missed it the first time.
Current Version: 1.1.1 (April 1, 2018)
Eyes-Free Fitness (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Eyes-Free Fitness is the first app designed to help people who are blind and visually impaired reach their health and fitness goals. The cornerstone of the app is the variety of workout types for people of all levels and aspirations of health. All workouts are described fully, so they can be done ‘Eyes-Free’. Additionally, access blog and podcast content from BlindAlive, and expand your health knowledge and horizons. The app interfaces with Apple Watch health data, and offers complete support for VoiceOver and dynamic text. For more information about BlindAlive and Eyes-Free Fitness, please visit our website. www.BlindAlive.com
Current Version: 1.1.3 (April 26, 2018)
FlickType Keyboard (iOS, Free)
familiar? It’s because it is! Using the standard QWERTY layout and 3 simple flick gestures, FlickType is the fastest available typing method for blind and low-vision users, ever. You don’t need to learn a new way to type. Just tap where it feels natural and FlickType’s powerful algorithms will get it right, almost every time!
No more spacebar or other control keys to hunt for. Simply flick right for space. To delete, flick left. Not the right word? Flick down for alternative suggestions.
An extremely fluid typing experience, and with enough additional functions to satisfy the book writer in you, FlickType will turn the chore of typing into something you may actually enjoy!
Happy typing! Smile
Current Version: 1.0 (April 24, 2018)
Sleep Watch (iOS, US$2.99)
Track sleep with your Apple Watch automatically. No buttons to press. Just wear your Watch to bed and wake to insightful sleep analysis and personalized feedback. Automatically log your data. Follow your sleep trends with powerful charting tools. Don't have an Apple Watch? Sleep Watch can be used without a Watch by logging your sleep manually.
How it works
- Wear your Apple Watch to bed (do not enable Power Reserve)
- Upon waking, check the Watch or iPhone app to see your auto-detected sleep details; that's it!
- Opt to confirm or adjust your auto-detected sleep times in the iPhone app to help us build you a smarter sleep detection algorithm
We recommend scheduling 'Do Not Disturb' to turn on automatically during your typical sleeping hours to prevent any Watch notifications from disturbing your sleep. This can be done in the iPhone Watch App > My Watch > General > 'Do Not Disturb' section. We also recommend enabling 'Theatre Mode' while asleep to keep your Watch screen dark until waking.
- Auto Sleep: Automatically log your estimated total sleep time, total restful sleep time, avg. sleeping heart rate, sleeping heart rate dip, sleep rhythm, and sleep activity levels for each day by simply wearing your Apple Watch to bed
- Discover: Take control of your sleep habits with AI-powered, personalized insights. Every body is unique. Using artificial intelligence, Discover uncovers the lifestyle choices you make that appear to help you achieve a better night's rest. The more data you track with Sleep Watch, the more you can Discover.
- Sleeping Heart Rate Dip Tracking: Studies among particular populations suggest that the more heart rate slows—or "dips"—during sleep compared to waking may be better for both overall and cardiovascular health in years to come. Get motivated to build a healthier lifestyle and start tracking your sleeping heart rate dip today.
- Sleep Rhythm Tracking: track an estimate of how consistently you sleep at the same time each day
- Sleep Charge Tracking: a fun new way to help you track and recover from recently missed sleep
- Easy Editing: Manually adjust your detected sleep times to your desired accuracy
- Daily Sleep Goal: See daily progress towards your custom sleep goal
- Daily Briefings: Effortlessly get daily notifications about how you slept
- Powerful Trending: Track daily, weekly, or monthly changes in sleep stats
- Auto sync sleep data to Health app
- Share each day's sleep
- Create an account and access your data cross-devices
- See last night's sleep details on your Watch
- Watch Complications
Current Version: 3.7.3 (April 28, 2018)
Woven Words (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
It all fits together in this unique brain-twister!
The Woven Words puzzle grids come in all different shapes and sizes, and when you’re done every row and every column will spell out complete words! Each game board is a mix of letters and blank tiles. Can you find the right letters for the blank tiles so that every line spells a word both down and across?
The free app includes 6 basic puzzles so you can get your feet wet – and then 12 more challenging puzzles to test your skills. In addition, over five hundred more puzzles are available for purchase.
We’ve worked hard to make Woven Words fully accessible with VoiceOver.
All recent app entries posted to AppleVis can be found at:
Notable App Updates
Audio Memos (iOS, US$0.99)
Audio Memos is a professionally made audio recorder. It has an amazingly intuitive interface, which is easy to use and full of powerful features. Use it in interviews, lectures, music session, briefings, ... and simplify your recording tasks.
- Best quality - adjustable to fit your needs.
- Amazingly loud - hear your recordings.
- Background recording - multitask at will*.
- iCloud - access your memos everywhere.
- Email your recordings.
- USB file transfers.
- Append audio to existing recordings.
- Search / Sort / Filter your recordings.
- Variable speed scrubbing.
- Send recordings to a computer using WiFi.
- Records when your device is in sleep mode.
- Pauses automatically on incoming phone calls.
- No time limit on recording length.
- Application lock code.
Current Version: 4.8.3 (April 28, 2018)
Changes in Version 4.8.3
- Improved sending to WhatsApp (you will still have problems sending m4a files with bookmarks; we recommend you also contact WhatsApp if you run into this problem).
- Fixed button to select all memos (IAP).
- Fixed potential issue with auto splitting.
- Fixed connection problem with SFTP servers under iOS 11 (IAP).
- Added support for VoiceOver gestures.
- Many other improvements.
Autour (iOS, Free)
Autour is an eyes-free mobile system designed to give blind users a better sense of their surroundings. Although other systems emphasize navigation from one specific location to another, typically accomplished by explicit turn-by-turn instructions, Autour uses spatialized audio to reveal the kind of information that visual cues such as neon signs provide to sighted users. Once users notice a point of interest, additional details are available on demand.
Current Version: 1.7.1 (April 20, 2018)
Changes in Version 1.7.1
Place Menu wasn't pausing a Shockwave sweep. VoiceOver no longer says "selected" for the last menu item previously clicked. Menus now display correctly on wide screens such as iPhone 6 (with no effect on VoiceOver). Fixed a crash related to the detector for low battery, which was introduced in the last release and didn't affect iPhones older than 4S. Added a way to control the maximum number of places spoken per sweep, which was 15 and now can be increased up to 50. Help for Maximum Distance setting was very outdated, sorry. Lots more info was added about ICADE game pads in the instructions manual (and some more text in the settings menu).
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.
- 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.
- The expandable Callout History section lets you review callouts you have heard, repeat callouts, hear more information about them, and more.
Current Version: 1.5.0 (April 25, 2018)
Changes in Version 1.5.0
Introducing Callout History! Callout History is a new expandable region above the buttons at the bottom of the screen that displays recent callouts that you have heard. Double tapping a callout with VoiceOver will repeat the callout. Additional VoiceOver actions can be accessed by swiping up on a callout.
In addition to the new Callout History feature we have improved the design of the Audio Beacon information near the top of the screen. Double tap on the beacon information with VoiceOver to mute or unmute the audio beacon and swipe up on the beacon information to access additional VoiceOver actions.
As always, we have been hard at work fixing bugs and improving existing features. If you walk along a roundabout intersection, Soundscape will now tell you about that intersection.
Pinterest (iOS, Free)
Pinterest helps you discover and do what you love. Find recipes, style inspiration, projects for your home and other ideas to try.
- Get ideas for every part of your life, from what to make for dinner, to what to put on your walls, to what to wear.
- Save ideas for later—organize ideas by topic, so they’re always easy to find.
- Search by keyword or with your camera—discover ideas inspired by anything you point the Pinterest camera at.
- Collaborate with friends—save ideas together for your next group trip, party or project.
- Save ideas you find around the web—just use the Pinterest Save button on your mobile browser.
Current Version: 6.5.0 (April 24, 2018)
Changes in Version 6.5.0
This was not mentioned in the release notes, but Pinterest posted the following on Twitter:
We're committed to building a product that helps everyone discover and do what they love - no matter their level of ability. @FastCompany shares how we've been making Pinterest more accessible to those with visual impairments: https://www.fastcodesign.com/90169317/pinterest-just-redesigned-its-app-for-blind-people
Sonarium (iOS, US$1.99)
Set in a cyber dystopia, Sonarium is an immersive, audio adventure game that follows the journey of a discarded, half-destroyed android, who finds itself awakened on a trash heap outside of the city. Without functioning optic sensors, the android is compelled to locate and assemble components found within the game world to ultimately, restore its sight.
- IMMERSIVE AUDIO EXPERIENCE
- 3D POSITIONED SOUNDS
- CAPTIVATING MUSIC
- OPEN ENVIRONMENT
- SIMPLE TOUCH CONTROLS
It's like VR, for your ears!
Current Version: 1.4.1 (April 9, 2018)
Changes in Version 1.4.1
Increased virtual joystick accessibility. Several content improvements. group
Recent News and Views
Apple Releases iOS 11.3.1 and a Security Update for macOS High Sierra 10.13.4.
By AppleVis | April 24, 2018
Apple has today released iOS 11.3.1 and a new security update for macOS High Sierra 10.13.4.
iOS 11.3.1 addresses a recently identified problem that could cause third-party repairs done on iPhone 8 models using aftermarket parts to disable the touch functionality of the screen.
According to the release notes via MacRumors, iOS 11.3.1 also includes some unspecified security improvements:
iOS 11.3.1 improves the security of your iPhone or iPad and addresses an issue where touch input was unresponsive on some iPhone 8 devices because they were serviced with non-genuine replacement displays.
Note: Non-genuine replacement displays may have compromised visual quality and may fail to work correctly. Apple-certified screen repairs are performed by trusted experts who use genuine Apple parts. See support.apple.com for more information.
According to the macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 release notes via MacRumors:
Security Update 2018-001 is recommended for all users and is meant to improve the security of macOS. The update addresses two security vulnerabilities related to Crash Reporter and LinkPresentation, both of which could be used maliciously to gain access to a Mac. A Safari 11.1 update is also included, with fixes for WebKit vulnerabilities.
It is unlikely that either of these releases will include any changes for blind or low vision users. However, if you encounter any fixes, changes or regressions in your own testing, please let us know by posting a comment below.
Talking with Myself: Speaking of Continuity
By Nicholas | April 22, 2018
One of the things I have always admired about Apple technologies, because of the Continuity and Syncing features, they become usable in combinations when you have more then one device. Having a Mac and an iPhone and an iPad all signed into the same Apple ID account creates an "environment" of sorts, with many features able to work together in ways that provide more functionality. Features like making or answering phone calls from any device. Using AirDrop for moving entire files or folders around. Texting or calling someone's cell phone from my Mac. Even syncing Contacts and Reminders, plus the use of iCloud Drive to collaborate between devices, there are many ways to make use of the environment that is created when one has more than one Apple device.
Okay, so this sounds pretty neat. There must be many ways to use all three of my devices together. I'm quite confident that, with a little effort, I can get myself into trouble, if I try. And so my adventure in Continuity begins. Fraught with perils and several dead ends, though much of my adventure has been filled with mixed results, below are some of the successes. At least, I like to think of them in that way. :-)
Keeping it all in Sync
Syncing Contacts, Messages, Calendar, Reminders and others, through iCloud can really help one for staying on the same page with all the various devices. It is really nice being able to add or change a Contact, then have it automatically updated to my other devices through iCloud. Using SIRI to send messages or place phone calls works consistently from any device, because all of my Contacts are auto-synced. Syncing Reminders is also very convenient, since it will alert me from any nearby device. Although, it can get a bit weird sometimes.
I wanted to see if my Reminders are set to sync through iCloud. Instead of going to each device and looking at the settings, I did a little experiment. I held the Home button down to bring up SIRI on my iPhone and said, "Remind me in one minute to turn off this reminder."
By Paul Martz | April 16, 2018
I've used an iPhone since 2007. I should know how to use the alarm feature by now. No such luck. My spouse and I use our Bose Wave Radio as our main alarm. I use my iPhone alarm only on rare occasions when I get up earlier than she does.
When Blind and Sighted Worlds Collide
One of those rare occasions happened last week. My phone alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 6 AM. My instinct was to find the stop button on the screen and double-tap it, which was the only way I knew to turn off the alarm. I bumped one of the volume buttons by accident, and because the alarm stopped and I was only half-conscious, I assumed the alarm was off. My spouse rolled over, sound asleep. I got up and stumbled, zombie-like, to the shower, unaware that I had merely snoozed the alarm.
You can guess the consequences. A few minutes later, as I lazily emerged from dreamland in a stream of steaming hot water, my spouse entered the bathroom and asked how to turn my alarm off. I tried to describe how to find the Stop button and double-tap, but my fully sighted and half-asleep spouse was unreceptive to a lecture on VoiceOver basics. I was in the shower, and of course we all know touchscreens don't respond to wet hands.
After this collision of the blind and sighted worlds, I did a little research on the iOS alarm. If you already think you know how to use the alarm, then I hope this article doesn't put you to sleep.
A Virtual Library: The Joys and Frustrations of Reading on iOS
By Lysette Chaproniere | April 13, 2018
My book collection takes up no space. With my phone in my pocket, and wearing my AfterShokz headset, I have hundreds of books to keep me occupied wherever I go. And when I buy new books, I don't need to worry about whether I have enough room for them on the shelves.
That's quite different from the braille books I was given to read as a child, where even the shortest novel took up several massive volumes. Wading through all those volumes was daunting. Later on, I learned about the digital library of audiobooks from the RNIB in the UK. But although they had a wide selection of books, it was a limited range compared with what I have access to now.
Once I got my first iPhone, millions of books were suddenly available to me, and I could buy them at the same time and at the same price as everybody else. I started reading more than I had ever read before. Now, when I hear about a book I like the sound of, I can usually find it in an accessible format, however popular or obscure that book is. I've used two ebook apps: iBooks and Kindle. I'd recommend both, although I more often use Kindle because they have more books and are sometimes slightly cheaper.
Sarah Herrlinger, Apple's Director Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives, Joins the American Foundation for the Blind's National Board
By AppleVis | April 4, 2018
In a very interesting development for the blind and low vision community, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has announced that Sarah Herrlinger, Apple's Director Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives, has been elected to the AFB's National Board.
In the AFB's press release, Kirk Adams, AFB President and CEO, is quoted as saying that “"Sarah Herrlinger is an outstanding addition to AFB's board”:
Ms. Herrlinger and Apple's commitment to making technology accessible to everyone reflects AFB’s mission of removing barriers and creating a world of no limits as we approach our 100th year and beyond."
"Throughout her career, Ms. Herrlinger has been a strong advocate for people who are blind or visually impaired," said Russell Shaffer, chair of AFB's Board of Trustees. "AFB will benefit immensely from her insights and leadership."
Whilst overall responsibility for Accessibility at Apple falls within the remit of Lisa Jackson, Vice President Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Sarah Herrlinger will for many be the most public face of Apple's commitment to inclusion due to her leadership role with its Accessibility Team and her involvement with building relationships and partnerships with other actors and agencies in the field of accessibility.
We at AppleVis wish Sarah all the best for her new role with the AFB; and we will watch with interest to learn what this will mean for the world of accessibility.
This Month in Podcasts
AppleVis Unleashed April 2018: In to Your Mind
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:
Apple Releases iOS 11.3.1 and a Security Update for macOS High Sierra 10.13.4
iOS 11 Now Installed on 76% of iOS Devices, While Android 8 is Installed on 4.6% of Android Devices Sarah Herrlinger, Apple's Director Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives, Joins the American Foundation for the Blind's National Board
Apple to begin alerting macOS customers about 32-bit apps
Upcoming Twitter Changes to Disable Key Features in Third-Party Apps [Updated]
Report: Apple to begin switch from Intel chips in Macs by 2020
AppleVis Extra 55: From Fleksy To FlickType
FlickType keyboard now available for free on the App Store
TIP: How to back up your Apple Watch
TIP: How to Un-Trust Computers After Connecting Your iPhone
'Trustjacking' Could Expose iPhones to Attack
You can contact the Unleashed Team with feedback or questions at email@example.com.
Drafts 5 for iOS, Quickly Capture Text to Save, Copy, Share or Deep Link into Other Apps and Services
In this podcast, Lysette Chaproniere gives us an in-depth walk-through of Drafts 5, a feature rich and powerful text capturing tool for iOS.
This is just some of how the its developer describes the app:
Drafts lets you turn text into action – it’s a quick notebook, handy editor, and writing automation tool, all in one. Instead of tapping around other apps, capture in Drafts first. Open it and write right away, then do something useful with your words.
- Drafts opens to a new page with the keyboard ready so you can type immediately. Go hands-free with Dictation, or ask Siri to "Create a note using Drafts".
- Drafts is a launching-off point for text – use the actions to copy it, share it, or deep link into other apps and services. Compose a tweet or message, create a file in Dropbox, send a task off to Reminders – there are hooks into tons of your favorite apps.
- New entries go into the Inbox. Once there, you can Tag them for organization, Flag them for importance, or Archive them for long-term storage.
- Set up a text editing experience that’s perfect for you, with tons of interface adjustments like custom fonts and control over spacing, line height, and margins.
- Use the customizable extended row above the keyboard to quickly convert, manipulate, and transform your writing. Make lists, use Markdown to get things just right.
- Process your drafts quickly using unique features like Link Mode, Arrange Mode, and Focus Mode.
Drafts 5 is a free download from the App Store; with a monthly or annual subscription available to unlock some features.
For a comprehensive review of Drafts 5 and what's new and changed from the previous version, you may find this Mac Stories review helpful.
Get Current on the News with the NFB-NEWSLINE® Mobile
In this podcast, Abby gives us a walk-through of the NFB-NEWSLINE® Mobile iOS app from the National Federation of the Blind.
Are you unable to read a newspaper? Are you missing out on current events, news, and information? NFB-NEWSLINE® provides the text of over four hundred newspapers, fifty magazines, emergency weather alerts and seven day forecasts, personalized television listings, and now retail ads.
NFB-NEWSLINE® is a free service available to anyone who is blind, visually impaired, or print-disabled. It offers over four hundred publications to choose from, including ten national newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today, sixteen breaking news sources such as CNN, BBC, and ESPN Online, fourteen international newspapers including Financial Times and Vancouver Sun, and countless state newspapers, as well as fifty magazines like Reader’s Digest, Time, Everyday With Rachel Ray, Guideposts, PC World, Mac World, and more. For a complete list of available publications, please visit https://nfb.org/participating-newspapers.
To use this app, you must be a NFB-NEWSLINE® subscriber with a valid identification and security code. Eligible NFB-NEWSLINE® subscribers may install and use this app on up to five devices. To learn more about NFB-NEWSLINE® and how you can sign up, visit www.nfbnewsline.org, or call (866) 504-7300.
Get Playing With The Huboodle Game Collection
In this podcast, Thomas Domville gives us an overview of Huboodle, a collection of fun and fully VoiceOver accessible games for iOS, all contained inside one app. While this podcast focuses on the app itself, stay tuned for more podcasts from Thomas, which will take us through each of the individual games currently available inside the Huboodle app.
Get Huboodle on the App Store https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/huboodle/id1281097173?mt=8&at=11l4LS
A Sneak Peek At The Upcoming Echoes From Levia Game
In this podcast, William Lomas gives us a preview of Echoes From Levia, a role playing immersive audio adventure game from Cloverbit, which will be available soon for both Mac and iOS. Find out more about it at www.echoesfromlevia.com.
AppleVis Extra 55: From Fleksy To FlickType
In this highly anticipated episode of the AppleVis Extra, Dave and Thomas are joined by Kosta, one of the team behind the new FlickType keyboard app, and once of Fleksy. In this wide ranging and frank discussion, we discuss the history of Fleksy, what happened with that app and why, as well as looking to the future with FlickType.
For more information on FlickType, visit www.flicktype.com or contact the team on Twitter @FlickType.
A complete list of all podcasts posted to the AppleVis website can be found at www.applevis.com/podcasts