AppleVis Unlimited: What’s New in Accessible Apps for January 2015

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Welcome to AppleVis Unlimited, our new 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 during the previous month - 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

Be My Eyes - helping blind see (Free)

From the App Store:

Blind users can request help from a sighted person and the sighted users will then be called for help. As soon as the first sighted user accepts the request for help a live audio-video connection will be set up between the two and the sighted user can tell the blind person what she sees when the blind user points his phone at something using the rear-facing camera.

Current version: 1.3 (January 25, 2015) Listen to a podcast demonstrating Be My Eyes Read the AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for Be My Eyes
Download Be My Eyes from the App Store

Blindfold Crazy Eights (Free)

From the App Store:

Blindfold Crazy Eights is a fully accessible Crazy Eights card game for both sighted and visually impaired people, designed for rapid audio play.

Blindfold Crazy Eights includes several variants of Crazy Eights, such as discard or draw, and discard or draw until you can discard. Since there are many rules choices for Crazy Eights, you can customize the game for many of those rules. You play against the computer.

Current version: 1.12 (January 30, 2015) Read the iOS App Directory entry for Blindfold Crazy Eights
Download Blindfold Crazy Eights from the App Store

Blindfold Solitaire (Free)

From the App Store:

Blindfold Solitaire is a fully accessible Solitaire card game for both sighted and visually impaired people, designed for rapid audio play.

Blindfold Solitaire includes Klondike 3, the typical game of solitaire where you build all four suits from ace to king in separate piles, and 28 cards are dealt into seven piles on the tableau, where the first pile contains 1 card, the second pile has two cards with only the top card showing, the third pile has 3 cards with only the top card showing and so on. Each time you draw from the deck, you get 3 more cards.

Current version: 1.0.7 (January 21, 2015)

Read the AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for Blindfold Solitaire
Download Blindfold Solitaire from the App Store

Degrees Pro – Accurate Weather (Paid; free version available)

From the App Store:

Degrees is a simple and intuitive weather app with information provided from NOAA and Environment Canada. Our clean and simple design allows you to quickly view all your favourite locations on a single screen. For detailed information, just tap a location and you're presented with current conditions, forecast details, and even weather alerts. While viewing details, you can quickly view the radar map and alert details from the convenient slide-down menu.

Be sure to stay up-to-date with our advanced push notification system. Whether you want the current temperature on you badge, or the latest alerts for any location, Degrees has you covered.

Current version: 2.4.3 (December 9, 2014) Read the iOS App Directory entry for Degrees Pro
Download Degrees Pro from the App Store

PracticeLooper (Paid)

From the App Store:

Loop sections you want to practice and learn by ear at your own speed. Slow down music without changing the pitch, or transpose without changing the tempo.

PracticeLooper is ideal for musicians, students, bands, transcribers, choreographers, or anyone else that needs to analyze songs or practice in sync with music.

Current version: 1.1.1 (January 18, 2015) Read the AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for PracticeLooper
Download PracticeLooper from the App Store

Square Cash - Send Money for Free (Free)

From the App Store:

Send or request money by using a text message or an email. It’s 100% free. Setup only takes a minute and money is automatically deposited to any US bank account. Most deposits happen instantly, so your money is ready to spend when you need it.

Current version: 2.3 (January 5, 2015) Read the AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for Square Cash
Download Square Cash from the App Store

Talking Atlas (Paid)

From the App Store:

An amazing innovative app for sighted and visually impaired users with the following features:

• Assistive mode for visually impaired

• Audio Hints to guide through all the modes

• 200+ maps of countries and world

• Audio description for each map

• Audio described flags

• Facts: languages, population, GDP, area size, calling code, History and much more…

• A trivia based on world facets to test your knowledge

• Multiple language dialects for voice over

• Works with on screen D-pad touch, Gestures, and external keyboard (easy indexing)

• In app purchase of more detailed maps of India and a India Based game

• If needed application will be updated overtime with new data

Current version: 1.2 (November 25, 2014) Read the iOS App Directory entry for Talking Atlas
Download Talking Atlas from the App Store

Voice Dream Writer (Paid)

From the App Store:

Voice Dream Writer helps everyone write better: Text-to-speech proofreading reduces mistakes, phonetic and meaning search help you use the right words, and an active outline helps you still organized and improves the structure of your writing.

Text-To-Speech Proofreading. Professional proofreaders recommend reading out loud as the best way to catch mistakes. Like a personal proofreader, Voice Dream Writer reads your writing using text-to-speech, so you can easily spot awkward sentences, grammatical errors and typos. Also, it can read words and sentences as you type or voice dictate. This way, you can type faster because you no longer have to look up to check the text you just wrote.

Word Finder. Voice Dream Writer helps you find the right words using phonetic search and meaning search. For example, search for "inuf" phonetically, and you will find "enough", and search for "Fast Africa Cat" by meaning and you will find "Cheetah." Word Finder also shows you the dictionary definition of a word as you type without you having to select anything or open another program.

Outline. As you write, Voice Dream Writer automatically creates an outline of headings, paragraphs and sentences. The Outline helps you structure your document better by giving you an always-on overview. You can also quickly navigate to a section in a long document without endless scrolling. Finally, you can drag and drop elements in the Outline to organize your writing.

Read the AppleVis iOS App Directory Entry for Voice Dream Writer
Download Voice Dream Writer from the App Store

Noteable App Updates

1Password - Password Manager and Secure Wallet (Free)

From the App Store:

Have you ever forgotten a password? Do you reuse passwords?

1Password creates strong, unique passwords for every site, remembers them all for you, and logs you in with a single tap. 1Password is free. Start using it today!

YOUR LIFE, SECURED BY 1PASSWORD

Current version: 5.2 (January 26, 2015)

Summary of Changes in Version 5.2

In addition to a whole host of bug fixes and feature enhancements, 1Password's developers have made accessibility improvements to the app's new detail view and editor.

Read the AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for 1Password
Download 1Password from the App Store

Facebook (Free)

From the App Store:

Keeping up with friends is faster than ever.

• See what friends are up to

• Share updates, photos and videos

• Get notified when friends like and comment on your posts

• Text, chat and have group conversations

• Play games and use your favorite apps

Current Version: 23.0 (January 30, 2015)

Summary of Changes in Version 23.0

While it's difficult to determine changes in Facebook updates because the company uses generic release notes, we do know that version 23.0 includes a fix for an accessibility bug which caused VoiceOver to read back parts of news feed stories twice.

Read the AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for Facebook
Download Facebook from the App Store

Microsoft Excel (Free)

From the App Store:

The real Microsoft Excel app designed for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Now your Excel spreadsheets look better than ever on your tablet and phone. When you edit or create spreadsheets, you can be confident they will look exactly how you want across PC, Mac, tablet and phone. Excel has the familiar Office look and feel along with an intuitive touch experience, so you’ll be up and running in no time.

The core Excel experience is free, including viewing, creating and editing spreadsheets. You can unlock the full Excel experience with a qualifying Office 365 subscription.

Current version: 1.5.2 (January 22, 2015)

Summary of Changes in Version 1.5.2

While version 1.5.2 is listed as a bug-fix update, version 1.5 (released earlier in January) brought improvements to reading and editing with VoiceOver.

Read the AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for Microsoft Excel
Download Microsoft Excel from the App Store

Microsoft Word (Free)

From the App Store:

The real Microsoft Word app designed for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Now Word documents look better than ever on your tablet and phone. When you edit or create documents, you can be confident they will look exactly how you want across PC, Mac, tablet and phone. Word has the familiar Office look and feel along with an intuitive touch experience, so you’ll be up and running in no time.

The core Word experience is free, including viewing, creating and editing documents. You can unlock the full Word experience with a qualifying Office 365 subscription.

Current version: 1.5.2 (January 22, 2015)

Summary of Changes in Version 1.5.2

Like Version 1.5.2 of Microsoft Excel, this latest version of Microsoft Word is also a bug-fix update. However, also like version 1.5 of Excel, Word 1.5 brought improvements to reading and editing using VoiceOver.

Read the AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for Microsoft Word
Download Microsoft Word from the App Store

Popular Podcasts

AppleVis Extra 26: Hans Wiberg, Creator of Be My Eyes

In this edition of the AppleVis Extra, Michael Hansen and Thomas Domville talk with Hans Wiberg, creator of Be My Eyes.

Launched internationally on 15th January 2015, the Be My Eyes app allows blind iOS users to connect with sighted volunteers via live video chat to ask questions about objects or situations that they have encountered.

Hans provides some background to Be My Eyes, discusses the response to the app since its launch, and answers some of the questions which were raised by users over the app's first week of worldwide availability.

Listen to Podcast "AppleVis Extra 26: Hans Wiberg, Creator of Be My Eyes"

AppleVis Extra 27: Winston Chen, Developer of Voice Dream Writer

In this AppleVis Extra, Jamie Pauls, Thomas Domville and Jeff Bishop talk with Winston Chen, developer of the incredibly popular Voice Dream Reader about the newest app in his line of Voice Dream products. Voice Dream Writer is a word processing application for iOS that looks to be a real game-changer with regard to mobile productivity for the blind community.

Listen to Podcast "AppleVis Extra 27: Winston Chen, Developer of Voice Dream Writer"

Audio Hijack: Record Any Audio On Mac

In this podcast, Alex Hall demonstrates the use of Audio Hijack. This Mac app allows you to record audio from individual apps, the entire system, or any internal or external microphones you have. Better still, it can mix them together, apply effects, adjust volumes, live monitor, and more. If you do podcasts or anything else that requires recording more than one audio source at once, you can't go wrong with this app. It's also fully accessible, as talked about in its page on AppleVis itself.

Listen to podcast "Audio Hijack: Record Any Audio On Mac"

Be My Eyes: Virtual Sighted Assistance at the Push of a Button

In this podcast, AnonyMouse gives us a walk-through and demonstration of Be My Eyes - helping blind see.

This recently released iOS app offers to connect blind users with sighted volunteers over live video chat. Using the camera on the iOS device, the blind person can then ask questions about an object or situation that they need help identifying.

Listen to Podcast "Be My Eyes: Virtual Sighted Assistance at the Push of a Button"

Family Sharing: Where To Locate Shared Purchases On OS X, iOS and Apple TV

In this podcast, David Woodbridge shows us how to locate items purchased by other family members using Apple’s Family Sharing facility.

Listen to podcast "Family Sharing: Where To Locate Shared Purchases On OS X, iOS and Apple TV"

Fixed In Yosemite 10.10.2: Playback Of Audio Messages When Using VoiceOver

In this podcast, David Woodbridge demonstrates how the release of Mac OS X 10.10.2 has fixed a bug which had previously been preventing VoiceOver users from listening to audio messages under Yosemite.

Listen to podcast "Fixed In Yosemite 10.10.2: Playback Of Audio Messages When Using VoiceOver"

Voice Dream Reader: A Powerful And Award Winning Reading Tool For iOS

In this podcast, Alex Hall walks us through the features and controls of this powerful reading tool.

With advanced text-to-speech and a highly configurable screen layout, this powerful reading tool can be tailored to suit every reading style from completely auditory to completely visual, plus a synchronized combination of both.

Voice Dream Reader supports reading PDF and Word documents, DRM-free EPUB and DAISY eBooks, Web pages and more. It's directly integrated with Bookshare, Dropbox, G-Drive, Evernote, Pocket, Instapaper, and Gutenberg.

Voice Dream Reader is available for $9.99 from the iTunes App Store.

Listen to podcast "Voice Dream Reader: A Powerful And Award Winning Reading Tool For iOS"

Recent News and Views

A Note to the Mainstream Media: Yes, Blind People Can Actually Use Touchscreens

By Michael Hansen | January 23, 2015

Over the last couple years, I’ve come to a conclusion about life as a blind person: it isn’t the physical lack of sight that’s the biggest difficulty I face; but rather, it is attempting to overcome peoples’ negative stereotypes and misconceptions about what I can—and cannot—do that is the real problem.

When I think of situations where negative stereotypes about blind people come into play, the use of technology isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. I tend to think about education, or employment, or parenting long before I think of access to the latest and greatest tech. But, as a recent Wired article about a new Braille-writing app demonstrated, misconceptions still abound about what technology blind people are able to gainfully use.

Read full article: "A Note to the Mainstream Media: Yes, Blind People Can Actually Use Touchscreens"

Apple Releases iOS 8.1.3 With Various Bug Fixes

By The AppleVis Editorial Team | January 27, 2015

Apple has today released iOS 8.1.3 to the public.

According to MacRumors, iOS 8.1.3 fixes include a fix for an issue that prevented some users from entering their Apple ID passwords for Messages and FaceTime, a bug that caused Spotlight to stop displaying app results, and a problem that prevented multitasking gestures from working on the iPad.

Read full article: "Apple Releases iOS 8.1.3 With Various Bug Fixes"

Apple Releases OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 With VoiceOver Fixes And More

By The AppleVis Editorial Team | January 27, 2015

Apple today released OS X 10.10.2 to the public. This second update to OS X Yosemite is believed to include a number of VoiceOver fixes.

We keep a running list of Yosemite bugs on our main Yosemite announcement page. You'll find all the new, fixed, and unaddressed bugs there.

Other notable changes and fixes include the addition of iCloud Drive support in Time Machine, a fix for the WiFi connectivity problems experienced by some users, and security fixes.

Read full article: "Apple Releases OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 With VoiceOver Fixes And More"

How Did The BBC Get It So Wrong For Blind Users In The Latest Update To Its iOS News App?

By David Goodwin | January 22, 2015

The BBC has regularly earned praise on AppleVis for the accessibility of it’s iOS apps, and has previously been cited by us as a model of best practice that other organizations should be striving to match.

So, when news of a major update to its iOS News app was recently announced, I didn’t even consider the possibility that this might come with any significant accessibility issues. This is in marked contrast to when I see other major updates available for download from the App Store. Like I suspect many others do, I always approach these with a sense of concern … worried that the developers of a previously good and accessible app will have dropped the ball.

But, surely this couldn’t happen with a BBC app, could it?

Read full article: "How Did The BBC Get It So Wrong For Blind Users In The Latest Update To Its iOS News App?"

Is a Single-Port Macbook Air Viable?

By Mehgcap | January 16, 2015

Yes, the latest rumor to come out of the mill is that Apple is going to introduce a radically re-designed, one-port Macbook Air sometime this year. It will have a 12-inch screen, a keyboard, a trackpad… and a single USB C port, along with the usual 3.5mm headphone jack. That's just one lonely little port for power, printers, external drives or card readers, USB audio peripherals, connecting your iOS devices, and any other wired connections you might need to do. Crazy, right? Why would anyone want a computer with just one port? Remember that this is a rumor, so should be taken with a whole shakerful of salt. Let's assume, though, that it's actually going to happen, just for the sake of argument.

Read full article: "Is a Single-Port Macbook Air Viable?"

Veteran Podcaster and Content Producer Jamie Pauls Joins the AppleVis Editorial Team

By The AppleVis Editorial Team | January 22, 2015

We are pleased to announce that veteran podcaster and content producer Jamie Pauls has joined the AppleVis Editorial Team.

Jamie Pauls brings an impressive resume to the AppleVis community. He is probably best known for his time hosting and producing ACB Radio’s Main Menu radio show; he has also hosted and produced the SeroTalk Podcast, been a voice in SeroTalk Podcast Network convention coverage, and produced the Triple-Click Home podcast.

Read full article: "Veteran Podcaster and Content Producer Jamie Pauls Joins the AppleVis Editorial Team"

Your Feedback is Requested!

If you love AppleVis Unlimited, or have a suggestion about how this new series could be improved, please be sure to let us know in the comments!

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17 Comments

Nice Recap

I like this new recap of things on the site, and think it should appear more often. This way it will all be in one easy place. I've been reading through this while installing some updates.

Thank You for Your Kind Words

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hello Jake,

We really appreciate your feedback. AppleVis Unlimited has been in the works for the last month and, needless to say, we're very excited to see the final result finally go live.

As of right now, we only plan to publish AppleVis Unlimited once a month. We feel that a monthly publication will best make the content relevant (recapping the highlights from the previous month) and not be an exhaustive use of limited editorial team resources.

a suggestion

Hi,
As the popularity of the Mac increases, I feel that there should also be apps on a publication like this which also hi light OS X apps as well.

AppleVis Unlimited

I think the AppleVis Unlimited is a great idea. I have not had time to investigate everything in it yet. I think this is going to keep me busy for a while. There are some very interesting apps that I didn't know about and I am looking forward to listening to some of the podcasts.

I like this

I had already seen most of the items listed here, but I had forgotten about some of them which I had intended to check out, so this list proved to be quite useful to me. I will look forward to seeing this every month going forward.

applevis umlimited

Way to go Applevis Team! As previously stated I too had forgotten about some of these apps, articles and podcasts! Nice to have them all here in one place for reference! This is truly thinking out of the box on the part of The Applevis team and I too will be looking forward to subsequent months editions of this newsletter! Great Work As Always!

Love it and app suggestion

I really appreciate this new format. It is great to be reminded of things you may have learned earlier and to have a review of everything. I have experienced a new app called Music Zooom that is amazing! If you are a low vision musician who is struggling to read sheet music, you need this app. You use a Bluetooth footpedal to advance the music and an iPad to scan and put the music into music zoom. It has been an amazing tool for me. It gave me back my music!. Ed Dalton is the app developer and I would be happy to talk to anyone about this app.

Can you list Forza for the next apple unlimited?

I'm a bit sad why applevis has not payed attention to Forza Football, an app that is fully accessible for people who are football fans.
The devs behind forza increased accessibility in each of their release, to the point that the app really does not require any more accessibility improvements.
You cannot believe how voice over reads game tables for you, and how fast this app is for voice over. It is awesome for socker/football fans who are using voice over, and the app could not be more accessible than this.

Unlimted Topics Selections

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hello Hadi,

As we know there are apps and developers that make great contribution in making their apps accessible for us. Like you have mentioned. The Forza Football is an outstanding app for those sports nuts. I can't disagree in what you have to say that the developer has done for the app.

The idea behind the AppleVis Unlimted is that we like to highlight of the happening in the last month on AppleVis. Those would be like which app is NEW and noteworthy. Along, with any app that have seen accessibility changes. Especially, if it is mentioned in their release notes.

Forza Football was not mentioned at all simply because the app entry page has not been updated to reflect any changes that would be noteworthy. It is people like you and our users that could help us in making sure any apps get the updates that they need. So if you find anything new. Please help us and go and leave comments for that app. This helps us to keep those apps up to date and let us know if something has changed. We can't mention any noteworthy apps if they are not updated.

Hope that tis makes a bit more sense in how the Unlimited is created.

Hi AnonyMouse

Hi AnonyMouse
That is clear and awesome!
I'll make sure to update them; though, It's late for forza. I'll go check its page to see if it's missing info.

but i keep your words in mind for latest app encounters.

Criteria for Making the List

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hello Hadi,

We certainly appreciate your feedback. As AnonyMouse stated in an above message, it's easy for us to overlook things, especially if we don't personally use the apps and thus don't have them on our devices to know if they've been updated.

We do utalize some methods for keeping track of app updates, and if we know of something we'll update the entry. By and large, though, the best way for our community to know about updates is if other community members post the news via the app's iOS App Directory page.

For what it's worth, I thought I'd share a little about how we put together our list for each month.

During the planning stages for AppleVis Unlimited, we tried to figure out a way to determine what apps would, and wouldn't, make the list for a given month. Generally, we concluded that to make the list, an app must either: (1) have a significant feature update that would bring value to blind or low vision users, or (2) it must contain accessibility improvements.

In looking at Forza's latest release--which we did consider for our February edition after you brought it to our attention--it appears that the release notes only list a new mapping feature and bug fixes. So, even if we had been aware of the update, it probably would not have made the final list because there do not appear to be any huge feature changes or accessibility improvements.

While this probably isn't the answer you were looking for, please know that we do value and consider all feedback we receive.

Hi Michael

Hi Michael

That makes sense. For some reason, I thought that this is the first of unlimited series, and you're going to include almost all the accessible apps that applevis users have discovered.

Regarding Forza, Last year they pushed updates as many as possible, improving accessibility in each release, and even mentioning it in their release notes. the app is complex and has many pages, but they wonderfully made changes so that VoiceOver users could use it without any tips and tricks. They seemed very focused on accessibility, despite of the app complexity. I do not use many apps , but to be honest the most fast responsive developers that i've ever seen is these guys. I've mailed them many times and they have patched up accessibility issues within one week; That's why i thought I give a shout out here, promoting their efforts.

Other than that, Thanks for maintaining this website, and for the fast response to clear things out! you guys rock.

Great idea

This is a great concept. I check the page to see what's new when I think of it. Trouble is, too often, I don't think of it. Even on a monthly basis, this will be extremely helpful. Thanks much!

Great addition.

Apple Vis Unlimited is a great addition to the Apple Vis family. As mentioned above, with a busy life I don't always remember to check back often enough. It is nice to know what is new and what has been updated. It is well presented and easy to find what you need . As well it gives me the opportunity to get more info or download the app as I did with a few you listed in the latest issue. After listening to the podcast where your guests listed what apps were on their homepage, I wonder if each month a different person could tell us what is on their homepage. I find this useful as it tells me which apps are important to people and worth checking out. Keep up the good work.

Simply fantastic

I absolutely love it, this is an excellent idea.
Keep up the good work AppleVis team.