Welcome to the August 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
Blindfold Bowling With Friends (iOS, Free with In-App Purchases)
Blindfold Bowling with Friends is a fully accessible audio game that's similar to the ten pin bowling.
In Blindfold Bowling with Friends, you play against other people via Game Center, or other people in the same room as you.
You throw the bowling ball by either flicking with one finger, or aiming with one finger and flicking, or setting the exact angle with your thumb and forefinger, and then flick. The faster you flick, the faster you throw the ball.
You hear the ball rolling down the alley, and hitting pins. Like real bowling, you can get a strike, or a spare, or even miss completely with a gutter ball. And you can post your high scores to Facebook or Twitter.
Current Version: 2.4.5 (August 24, 2016)
Blindfold Greeting Card (iOS, Free with In-App Purchases)
Blindfold Greeting Card is a fully accessible e-card app for sending audio cards to your friends and family.
A greeting card is created by first selecting a sound effect, and then recording yourself saying something. After both steps are done, prepare and listen to the card to make sure you like it, and then send the card. Cards can be sent via email, text message, facebook, twitter or any other social networking app that your phone may have.
You can choose from hundreds of sound effects when designing your greeting card.
Blindfold Greeting Card comes with the ability for you to send 10 cards. After those are used up, you can purchase upgrades for create and send more cards.
Current Version: 1.1.1 (August 25, 2016)
Boop Light Detector (iOS, Free)
Boop is an app to detect levels of light and interpret this information with sound. It allows its blind and visually impaired users to detect whether lights are on or off. It covers a broad range of light levels which spans from sensing daylight through open windows to checking whether the indicator light is on for a wifi router.
How to use:
- Open app and accept permissions to use camera (first time only)
- Point phone towards a light source
- Listen and feel as your phone changes tone and frequency of vibration while getting closer to the light
- Only the light level at the center of the camera (directly perpendicular to the phone face) is measured. Pointing the phone directly at the light source will get the highest reading.
- Volume control buttons on side of phone control Boop's playback volume
- Mute will completely turn off sound
- Toggle vibrate on or off manually with the switch at the bottom of the app
- 2 finger scrub to turn vibrate on or off
- 2 finger double tap to close app
- Tap center of app to read light level
Current Version: 1.4 (July 26, 2016)
Castro — Play and Share Podcasts (iOS, US$4.99)
Castro is the ideal app for today’s podcast enthusiasts.
There have never been as many great podcasts available as there are now. Incredible stories, multiple perspectives on news, and diverse opinions are all just a few taps away. Castro is the first app that is designed to help you track a broad range of shows and pick out the episodes that appeal to you. Subscribing to a podcast doesn't have to be a commitment to listen to every episode. You don’t have to choose a narrow few shows and miss out on the rest.
Castro introduces a new concept to support today's broad-minded podcast enthusiast: triage.
- Inbox: Newly published episodes land here. Review the descriptions, queue the best ones and archive the rest.
- Queue: A central playlist to plan your listening in advance. Queued episodes are automatically downloaded, and can be re-ordered or archived any time.
You can set your favourite shows to queue automatically and use the inbox to triage the rest. This opens the door to expanding your listening habits without overwhelming your play queue.
ALL THESE EXTRA FEATURES
- Castro sports an elegant dark mode and well-thought out sleep timer, offering the best in night time podcast listening.
- Our "Tentacles" backend server constantly scans for new episodes across every podcast, so your phone doesn’t have to, saving battery life and data usage.
- Castro can notify you as soon as episodes are published.
- Download and Storage management: Queued episodes are automatically downloaded, so you can focus on deciding what you want to hear and let Castro manage the details.
- Fine scrubbing: drag the playhead to scan quickly, or drag the waveform for precision scrubbing.
- Beautifully rendered full screen show notes allow you to follow up and explore links of episodes that provide these details.
- Rotation support, and big playback controls on the player for easy use while driving.
Current Version: 2.0.1 (August 18, 2016)
MindNode – Delightful Mind Mapping (iOS, Free)
MindNode makes mind mapping delightful. Mind maps are a visual representation of your ideas, starting with a central thought and growing from there. MindNode allows you to brainstorm, organize & share your thoughts in an intuitive way, so you can focus on the idea behind it. The clean interface lets you concentrate on generating and connecting thoughts, and an infinitely expanding canvas means that no matter how big or complicated your project gets, MindNode can keep up.
MindNode has helped students, artists and project managers to be more creative with less effort.
Brainstorming — Just Start With Your Ideas
- Create new ideas with a tap of your finger
- Create multiple mind maps on a self-expanding canvas
- Create connections between otherwise unrelated topics
- Add photos and stickers to illustrate your ideas
- Full VoiceOver support including gestures and other accessibility features
Organizing – Think Content, not Layout
- Simply rearrange your thoughts and hide entire branches to stay on top of your idea
- Automatically keep complicated mind maps organized using Smart Layout
- Highlight important nodes using different colors, fonts, and strokes
- Add notes to topics and labels to connections for additional details
- Easily browse large and complicated maps using a built-in outline
- Get things done by turning nodes into tasks, with parent nodes showing your progress
Sharing — Spread Your Thoughts Easily
- Access all your mind maps from your iPhone, iPad or Mac using iCloud Drive
- Share interactive documents publicly via the web through our MyMindNode service
- Import your mind map from MindManager, FreeMind, OPML, Markdown, TaskPaper, CSV, or text outline
- Export your mind map as a PDF, FreeMind, OPML, PNG, Markdown, TaskPaper, CSV, or text outline
- Export your tasks to Apple’s Reminders and OmniFocus
Current Version: 4.3.3 (August 13, 2016)
Nearby Explorer (iOS, US$79.99)
Nearby Explorer is a full featured GPS app designed for use by people who are blind. Instead of just providing directions, it describes the environment in ways comparable to reading signage or observing road characteristics.
It uses onboard maps, so a data connection is not required, but if you have one, Nearby Explorer supplements the on board map data with crowd collected locations from Foursquare or Google Places. It includes complete maps for the United States and Canada which contain millions of points of interest. The onboard maps are over 4GB in size, so be sure the device you plan to use has enough available space before purchasing.
Nearby Explorer works with any device running iOS version 9 or later, but if the device does not contain its own GPS receiver, like most iPads and iPods, you must use an external GPS receiver. All iPhones contain GPS receivers.
Nearby Explorer works by letting you select from several different location related options about what to announce as you move. These include both typical items like street name and address and specialized options like approaching streets, intersection configurations, and nearby places and the distance and direction to them. (All announcements are optional.) All of this information is shown on the home screen and is available at any time, but typical use is to adjust the level of announcements, then lock the screen and put the device away. This keeps both hands free and let's your preferred voice speak the characteristics of the environment as you move.
You may also use the devices position and orientation to obtain additional targeted details such as pointing the end of the device to scan for businesses, even in a moving vehicle, or tilting it vertically to function as a compass, including a listing of streets in the indicated direction. This all works with the device locked, so one need not fuss with the touch screen while moving. You may even mark a point, then use the position of the device to get haptic feedback about that point's location.
Nearby Explorer includes a transit feature that provides detailed mass transit schedules for over 60 metropolitan areas in the U. S. and Canada. It treats transit stops just like favorites and points of interest by announcing their name and relative position as you move, but in addition, transit stops add next vehicle stop time, direction of travel, and route name to the announcements. You can use the transit schedules to look up times or even follow a route.
You may virtually move to any area in the U.S. or Canada and explore the road network, search, or use the transit maps for that area.
Current Version: 1.0 (August 25, 2016)
Notifyr (iOS, Free)
Stay Informed Get Notified
Notifications will never be the same.
Start getting notified about your personal interests. Whether you're interested in celebrities, sports teams, companies, TV shows and more. Notifyr will cater to your interests and deliver notifications for all the things you care about.
- Download Notifyr
- Add Interests
- Get Notified
Current Version: 1.0.6 (August 25, 2016)
Pocket Recorder - Accessible Audio Recorder by Sweetman Systems (iOS, US$9.99)
An accessible recorder with you wherever you go!
Pocket Recorder has been created with speed and ease of use in mind. Many applications can be very difficult to navigate for Visually Impaired users, but Pocket Recorder’s menus are very comprehensive and graphics have been minimalized to ensure swift navigation for users with screen reading. We have designed this application to be fully accessible with Voiceover so users can also benefit from using any Voiceover compatible braille display. Use of a Braille display enhances navigation and allows quick naming of files. We highly recommend using the application with a good pair of headphones to prevent any Voiceover speech from being recorded and to remain incognito in whatever environment you find yourself in. Link your Dropbox account to automatically upload recordings to your other devices!
We hope you find Pocket Recorder to be a useful and effective tool for capturing those moments you need to remember!
Current Version: 1.0.1 (July 28, 2016)
Scout Legend (iOS, Free with In-App Purchases)
Scout Legend is a game for people who enjoy the world of scouting, hiking, fishing, camping and scout uniform dress-up and would like to have fun playing together and unite into scout units.
To start you need to choose a character to play, then make your scout eat every day so you never get hungry and keep your energy level at 30. You earn points for eating if you eat at least one hour after the previous eating. Another way to earn points is by Scout Actions.
There are many choices of camping food and Scout Actions to choose from. Eat everyday to make sure your scout is not hungry, mad or sick. This is the goal of Scout Legend.
Another goal is to purchase all clothes, shoes and hats options so you would be able to change costumes and looks and share it.
Yet another goal of the game is to earn enough points and purchase all available items for all the scenes including the Camp, the Tent and the Beach and all items for the Backpack.
The game is accessible for visually impaired and blind people (VoiceOver).
Current Version: 1.8.1 (August 18, 2016)
SmartNews - Trending News & Stories (iOS, Free)
Your news in one minute. Get the award-winning, addictively simple news app downloaded by over 16 million readers in 150 countries!
SmartNews analyzes millions of articles every day to discover and deliver the top trending stories influencing the world right now.
Working directly with a large variety of media publishers, SmartNews provides a broad spectrum of topics and perspectives. Partners include: NBC News, Medium, USA Today, TIME, TechCrunch, The Huffington Post, Bleacher Report, Quartz, The Verge, VICE, Vox.com, Reuters, AP, Perez Hilton, Fast Company and more.
Current Version: 4.0.0 (August 23, 2016)
Ulysses (iOS, US$24.99)
Ulysses is your one-stop writing environment on iOS. Whether you’re a novelist, a journalist, a student or a blogger – if you love to write and write a lot, Ulysses gives you a uniquely streamlined toolset, covering every phase of the writing process:
- A powerful, yet simple text editor.
- A familiar, no-nonsense text library.
- A comprehensive and truly flexible multi-format export.
Of course, the heart and soul of a writing app is its editor. And Ulysses is said to have the best text editor in the world. It offers everything you need – from markup to images and footnotes, from links to comments and code –, and it still manages to stay completely out of the way. It’s a beautiful and focused experience, which turns writing on mobile into actual fun.
But since Ulysses takes writing seriously, it does not stop at the editor. Its unified library offers unprecedented access to everything you’ll ever write, be it snippets and ideas, be it blog posts or manuscripts. Every text is at your fingertips, and Ulysses perfectly scales from scratchpad to diary to Great American Novels – and to everything in-between.
Best of all, Ulysses offers fully-fledged, no-holds-barred, all-out iCloud sync. Ulysses is available for all your devices, be it iPad, iPhone or Mac, and every device has access to everything and anything you’ll ever write. Synchronization is simple, seamless and automatic. It neither requires third-party apps, nor any kind of interaction. If you got iCloud, you got sync.
And once you’re finished, Ulysses transforms your text into beautiful PDFs, web pages, ebooks and Word documents. You can copy as HTML, save as Markdown, and even publish to your WordPress and Medium accounts. Export is as easy as selecting a format, choosing a style, and picking a destination. Yes, 1-2-3.
Current Version: 2.6 (August 3, 2016)
Yes Chef - Hands Free Recipe Assistant (iOS, Free)
Yes Chef is the hands free cooking app that talks you through recipes, and answers your questions. Use your voice to work through recipes and keep your hands free to make great food! Yes Chef offers over 350,000 recipes -- what will you make today?
Yes Chef will find you recipes, read you recipes, and answer recipe questions. Yes Chef can answer questions like:
- “Chef, how do I make Ratatouille?”
- “Chef, what temperature do I set the oven to?”
- “Chef, what’s the next step?”
- “Chef, is it baking powder or baking soda?”
STEP BY STEP RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS
From prep to plate, Yes Chef is entirely hands free. With the knife in one hand, all you have to say is, “Chef, let’s get started.” If you’re cooking chili from scratch, Yes Chef may say “Dice the tomatoes.” Once you finish dicing tomatoes, simply say “next step” and the app continues to read the recipe aloud. Yes Chef will guide your cooking to new heights.
THE CONVERSATIONAL KITCHEN
Yes Chef is the first iOS voice-controlled natural language cooking app, making technology less detectable and more useful in the kitchen. If you don’t understand a step in the recipe, you can ask follow up questions, and because the app is hands free, it won’t matter how grimy your fingers are. Our technology allows you to create deep cooking conversations with Yes Chef’s deep learning engine.
THE PERFECT RECIPE
Yes Chef offers over 350,000 recipes! They are searchable by popularity, keyword and filterable by cuisine. Whatever you want to eat, Yes Chef knows a way to cook it.
Put your cookbooks down, and get more active in the kitchen. Time to make it a little easier to prep, master new culinary techniques, and eat new recipes that inspire you.
Current Version: 1.0.5 (August 24, 2016)
All recent app entries posted to AppleVis can be found at:
Notable App Updates
FileBrowser - Access files on remote computers (iOS, US$5.99)
FileBrowser is the original and best file manager and viewer for iOS. FileBrowser can view, copy, move, upload, download, stream, and manage files between computers, servers, NAS drives and cloud storage in any direction. You don’t need to install any other software. FileBrowser will scan and locate computers on your network and connect in seconds and will connect to cloud storage quickly too.
Supports iPad Pro and iOS 9 multi-tasking.
We’ve optimised FileBrowser so that it browses network folders faster than Windows Explorer or Mac Finder and our users agree!
- All versions of Windows and Windows Server
- Mac OS X from 10.5
- Time Capsule
- NAS drives
- WiFi Drives
- Google Drive
- Stream movies on your home network. No need to wait for them to sync or copy to your iPad or iPhone.
- Use AirPlay™ to watch your movies on your HDTV with Apple TV or via an AirPlay™ enabled media server.
- Stream videos to Chromecast.
- Stream music on your home network, including FLAC files.
- Listen to your music on AirPlay™ enabled speakers or to Chromecast.
- Stream music in the background whilst watching a FileBrowser photo slideshow or running another app.
- Browse photos from any FileBrowser location. No need to sync.
- Watch a slideshow of your photos on your HDTV via AirPlay™, Amazon Fire TV or Chromecast.
- Upload and download groups of photos from iOS Photo Library.
- Copy multiple files and folders from anywhere to anywhere in one go. Select a bunch of files on Dropbox, for example, and copy them to your home Mac, PC, NAS, iCloud, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, WebDAV, or FTP server.
- Manage storage using Copy, Move, Rename, Delete, Create Folder.
- Push files to your device using any browser or WebDAV client.
- Intuitive touch interface makes browsing and managing files easy.
- View PDFs, Apple Pages, Numbers, KeyNote documents, Microsoft Office and any text files.
- Annotate PDF files and save back to any storage.
- Edit documents with apps such as Pages and Word.
OUT AND ABOUT
- Connect to portable WiFi drives to expand your iPad or iPhone’s capacity without limits.
- Read our External Access Guide on our web site to learn how to connect to your servers over the Internet (Cellular or WiFi). See support on www.stratospherix.com
Current Version: 8.7 (August 30, 2016)
Changes in Version 8.5-8.7
- VoiceOver fixes for some toolbar menus
- New integrated image and video viewer.
- New slideshow transitions for images.
- Slideshow settings are now available from the image viewer menu.
- Support for Amazon Fire TV device for images.
- View CBZ and CBR comic files.
- View animated GIFs in the image viewer.
- New web server allowing access to My Files from a browser.
- WebDAV server now allows access to the Photo Library.
- Added support for viewing markdown .md files.
- File date information is now shown in the image viewer.
- Thumbnails are now shown for videos stored on SMB servers..
- Added Recently Imported folder to Photo Library.
- Added support for passing certificate files to Safari.
- SFTP login using a private/public key pair is now permitted if a key pair file is renamed to machine-name.sftp in My Files.
- Ability to log into web servers when downloading content from a URL.
- Menu option in PDF viewer to start PDF annotation.
- Fix showing DNG files with JPG compressed images.
- Fix WebDAV server uploads from Windows 7.
- Fix copying very large files to SFTP servers.
- Fix the ability to handle large number of photos in Photo Library.
- Fix Share Image… menu option in image viewer to share full resolution images.
- Fix Photo Library Albums folder to show albums synced from iTunes.
- Added ‘Autostart Next Video’ option.
- Double-tapping a photo now zooms to where tapped.
- Added ability to switch off image transitions (for rapid slideshows).
- Added Big5 language support for FTP.
- Added Favourites folder to Photo Library.
- Fixed streaming videos to third-party apps.
- Fixed Teal menu text on Black UI theme.
- Fixed display of PDF form data.
- Fixed extraction of large RAR file.
- Fixed opening of large Comic book .CBR files.
- Fixed video rotation lock.
NantMobile Money Reader (Formerly LookTel Money Reader) (iOS, Free)
NantMobile Money Reader instantly recognizes currency and speaks the denomination, enabling people experiencing visual impairments or blindness to quickly and easily identify and count bills. Point the camera of your iOS device at a bill and the application will tell you the denomination in real-time. Twenty one currencies are supported: the US Dollar, Australian Dollar, Bahraini Dinar, Brazilian Real, Belarusian Ruble, British Pound, Canadian Dollar, Euro, Hungarian Forint, Israeli Shekel, Indian Rupee, Japanese Yen, Kuwaiti Dinar, Mexican Peso, New Zealand Dollar, Polish Zloty, Russian Ruble, Saudi Arabian Riyal, Singapore Dollar, and United Arab Emirates Dirham.
Featuring our patented and proprietary recognition technology, the NantMobile Money Reader makes it as easy to recognize bills as possible. There’s no need to hold the iOS device still or capture a photo and wait for a result. Recognition happens instantly--in real-time. The app does not require an internet connection, which means it will read money at any location, and at anytime.
NantMobile Money Reader is a helpful mobile assistant that’s simple and easy to use. While shopping, use the application to verify money while checking out or to ensure you are getting the right amount of change back. It can be used to quickly and easily sort money with independence and confidence. The denomination is also displayed on the iOS device's in high contrast large numerals, for those having sufficient vision to make use of the display.
NantMobile Money Reader provides VoiceOver support for several languages including English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Polish, Portugese, Russian, Korean, Finnish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Japanese, Greek, Hungarian, and Mandarin.
Current Version: 2.5 (August 3, 2016)
Changes in Version 2.5
This version includes updated currency notes, 64-bit support, bug fixes, and general improvements.
Recent News and Views
Apple Releases iOS 9.3.5 with Fixes for 3 Zero-Day Security Exploits
By AppleVis | August 25, 2016
Apple has today released iOS 9.3.5 to the public, bringing fixes for three zero-day security exploits used to hack into targeted users' iPhones.
According to Mac Rumors, iOS 9.3.5 patches three zero-day vulnerabilities which were actively being exploited by surveillance software:
In an overview of the exploits, security firm Lookout says NSO Group's spyware software, nicknamed "Pegasus," was highly sophisticated, installing itself through a link sent via a text message.
The exploit was initially discovered on August 11 after human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor received a suspicious link and sent it to Citizen Lab and Lookout. Had Mansoor clicked the link, it would have jailbroken his iPhone and installed "sophisticated malware" able to intercept phone calls, text messages, FaceTime calls, email, and more.
Pegasus is the most advanced attack Lookout has seen because it is customizable, can track a range of things, and uses strong encryption to avoid detection. Lookout believes "Pegasus" had been in the wild for quite some time before it was discovered, with some evidence dating back to iOS 7.
As iOS 9.3.5 appears to be a security update to fix three very specific issues, it is unlikely that there will be any accessibility changes in this release. However, if you do spot any changes, please let us know in the comments.
AppleVis Resumes Accepting Community-Submitted Podcasts
By AppleVis | August 24, 2016
We are pleased to announce that AppleVis will resume accepting podcast submissions from the community.
In January 2016, we transitioned the AppleVis Podcast to a team-supported model. The members of our Podcast Team have produced a number of high-quality; informative; and engaging podcasts for the AppleVis community, and we sincerely appreciate their time and dedication.
However, despite having a team of talented podcasters producing content for AppleVis, the reality is that we have not been able to offer the community the number and variety of quality podcasts that we would desire—or that our listeners have come to expect. Thus, we have made the decision to resume accepting community podcast submissions.
If you are interested in submitting a demonstration for possible inclusion in a future AppleVis Podcast, please take a moment to read our podcast submission guidelines before recording. Following these guidelines is the best way to ensure that your podcast meets our quality standards.
We appreciate the support and contributions of each and every person who has made AppleVis the valuable resource that it is today, and we look forward to the future of the AppleVis Podcast with great anticipation.
Smarty Pants: The iPhone in Your Pocket May be Brighter Than you Think
By Morgan | August 24, 2016
I was so naive. I used to equate artificial intelligence with politicians. I believed that computing devices were, at best, simple automatons. Perhaps I got the definitions switched. Or patently wrong. Today, as I observe people and watch how they interact with their iPhones, I see an unprecedented synergy and I wonder if we are beginning to meld with our new technologies. It's a thought.
Ever since the days of the ENIAC computer, with its thousands of vacuum tubes, we have been taught that any strange or erratic behavior was due to operator error or faulty programmer logic. I'm not so sure. Some of my early interactions with desktop computers made me wonder. Twenty years ago, I would write formal letters and memos to President Berdahl at the University of Texas. He was a very nice and personable man. Still, I would never presume to be casual with our written communications. I was always careful to get the slightly odd spelling of his last name just right. Even so, every time I would type Berdahl in a document, my computer would attempt to substitute his name with either "Bedroll" or "Bordello." A sentient machine? Unlikely, but give it time.
I never felt intellectually inferior to my first iPhone, except when it took me a week to learn how to make and receive calls. With VoiceOver, the iPhone seemed like such a wondrous and supportive partner. I would slip the iPhone into my pocket and take it everywhere. My iPhone could do anything, and I often let it do much of my thinking. Over the years, I have discovered that I cannot do without it. It's become a part of me.
Apple Releases iOS 9.3.4, Bringing an 'Important Security Update' to iOS 9 Users
By AppleVis | August 4, 2016
Apple has today released iOS 9.3.4 to the public, bringing an 'Important Security Update' to iOS 9 users.
According to Apple's release notes via Mac Rumors, iOS 9.3.4 contains "an important security update" and is recommended for all those using iOS 9.
As iOS 9.3.4 appears only to be a security-fix update, it is unlikely that there are any accessibility changes for blind and low vision users. However, if you do notice any changes, please do let us know in the comments.
This Month in Podcasts
A Walk Through and Demonstration of Pocket Recorder for iOS
In this podcast, Tunmi introduces us to Pocket Recorder, a $10 iOS app which allows you to record audio tracks and save them to Dropbox.
One Way to Set up the 4th Generation Apple TV Without a Physical TV
In our 998th podcast, Lisa Salinger describes the setup she uses to run her Apple TV through a stereo without the need for a TV.
How to Use Uber for iOS
Speed Up Everyday Tasks on your Mac by Using the VoiceOver Keyboard Commander
In this podcast, Mike Malarsie shows us how to access and use the VoiceOver Keyboard Commander, a nifty feature for Mac users which allows you to create and use custom keyboard shortcuts to speed up a number of tasks - such as open applications, files and folders; navigate and control what’s on screen; run Apple Scripts and Automator Workflows; issue VoiceOver commands; and much more.
If you have any commands that you find particularly useful, do please share them in the comments.
A Demonstration of the BBC iPlayer Radio app for iOS
in this podcast, Scott Davert introduces us to iPlayer Radio, a free app giving you access to lots of content directly from the BBC. This app is free to download.
A complete list of all podcasts posted to the AppleVis website can be found at www.applevis.com/podcasts