AppleVis Unlimited: What's New in Accessible Apps for September 2016
Welcome to the September 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
Amedia NaviRec (iOS, Free)
NaviRec is a guidance recording app for the visually impaired. The app is a combination of a voice recorder and GPS device.
It is capable to record audio and its locations during an entire travel and recreate its experience subsequently, helping the visually impaired to travel confidently.
NaviRec has three modes: Record Mode, Replay Mode and Guidance Mode. Record Mode and Replay Mode work just like a normal voice recorder. It records and replays the audio recorded during a guidance. When traveling, use Guidance Mode. It replays the recorded audio clip based on its location, helping the user to remember the guidance and navigate towards the destination.
Current Version: 1.0 (September 15, 2016)
Google Allo — smart messaging (iOS, Free)
Introducing Google Allo, a smart messaging app that helps you say more and do more. Express yourself better with stickers, Smart Reply, and HUGE emojis & text. Allo brings you the Google Assistant.
Smart Reply: Respond to messages without typing a single word. Smart Reply learns over time and suggests responses to text and photos, in your style.
Stickers: Say it all with the perfect sticker. Stickers in Google Allo are designed by independent artists and studios from around the world.
SHOUT or whisper: No more typing in ALL CAPS to get your point across. Say it louder or quieter by changing the size of your text with a quick swipe.
Meet your personal Google Assistant: Google Allo brings you the Google Assistant. Find restaurants nearby, share videos to watch, and get answers, right in your conversation with friends. Add @google to your group conversation or chat one-on-one with your Assistant. It’s your own personal Google, always ready to help.
Incognito mode: Send messages with end-to-end encryption, use private notifications to help keep your chats more discreet, and control how long your messages stick around with expiring chats.
Current Version: 1.2 (September 22, 2016)
Millionaire Quiz Free! (iOS, Free)
The most popular game of general knowledge is now available for iOS.
Download the game, have fun, learn and show what you got!
- A quiz game to have fun and learn with the whole family. Don’t miss it!
- An addictive and fun quizup with questions updated to play at any time.
- More than 20,000 questions to test your knowledge and general culture.
- This trivia game is available in 6 languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.
- The perfect hobby to show that you still have a lot to learn!
- A game of questions and answers for lovers of trivia.
- Millionaire is a dynamic game to speed up your thinking and help you to be faster and faster.
- Share in social networks (Facebook and Twitter) your achievements and show your friends you're the best!
Current Version: 4.0.3 (August 1, 2016)
Mutter - IRC Client (iOS, Free)
Mutter is a free an easy-to-use IRC client optimised for the iPhone and iPad. It allows you to connect to thousands of IRC networks all over the world, and chat to people about any topic you can think of.
- Multiple servers with network presets
- Auto-completion for nicknames and commands
- Dark mode variant of the user interface
- Touch ID and passcode protected access
- Compatible with mIRC colours and formatting
- Shows images inline
- Built in commands with support for user-defined aliases
- Notification overlay with tappable actions (e.g. connect, join channel, etc)
- Highlight on specific keywords or phrases
- Swipe gestures to easily traverse networks and chats
- Ignore users (someone getting on your nerves?)
- Manage channel modes and properties
- Send Photo from Photo Library or Camera
- iCloud synchronisation of settings
- Execute commands on connection
- Supports ZNC 1.6 or later
- Supports Push Notifications via Mutter Push ZNC module
- Simple Authentication and Security Layer (SASL)
- Lag indicator and auto reconnect
- German localisation
- IRCv3 compliant
Current Version: 1.6.5 (September 27, 2016)
overTHERE (iOS, Free)
overTHERE is a unique accessibility app that helps blind individuals explore and interact with the surrounding environment by using virtual audible signs. overTHERE uses a unique line-of-sight algorithm that lets you point the phone in your hand in any direction to hear the nearest Places as Virtual Talking Signs. When pointing straight at a virtual sign the speech is loud and clear, but as you point away from it, the speech starts to get staticky, so you have quick audio feedback about the exact location of the virtual talking sign.
Holding the phone horizontally lets you explore your surroundings using the virtual talking signs interface, but when the phone is held vertically you can use the screen or VoiceOver to review the list of signs around you. By selecting a sign from the list you can access details about a location such as its address, phone number, or web site.
overTHERE even lets you create your own virtual talking signs, so you can mark special locations that might otherwise be difficult to find again.
Current Version: 1.2 (September 25, 2016)
Sero (formerly iBlink Radio) (Apple TV, Free)
The Sero application, formerly known as iBlink Radio, is the world's first application for the visually impaired for the iPhone, iPod touch, Apple TV, and iPad! Radio stations, podcasts and reading services of special interest to blind and visually impaired persons; as well as their friends, family, caregivers and those wanting to know what life is like without eyesight.
All stations under Community Radio are owned and/or operated by persons with limited or no eye sight. Genres include oldies, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, alternative, classic Rock, Old Time Radio and more.
World Documentary (iOS, Free)
World Documentary - collection of famous, awakening & mind-boggling documentaries from all over the globe. Categorized in clear n simple manner for an easy use. Get enlightened with past and have thrilling vision about future with this vast collection documentaries.
- Documentaries are streamed free of cost
- Watch on iPhone or iPad or Apple TV (using AirPlay)
- No login or account creation is required
- Clearly categorized documentaries n easy to navigate
- Regular updates on videos n categories
- Easy to share on Facebook or Tweet or Email the videos links
WD is a mashup created on YouTube to filter full length documentaries , this app serves as a catalogue of all documentaries available to watch instantly(of course free of cost). Documentaries are added on availability basis.
Current Version: 1.3 (January 20, 2015)
All recent app entries posted to AppleVis can be found at:
Notable App Updates
BlindSquare (iOS, US$39.99)
BlindSquare is pioneering accessible navigation both indoors and outdoors. Know where you are, know where you're going, travel with confidence.
BlindSquare is a new solution that combines the latest technology to help the blind with their daily lives. It has been developed in collaboration with blind people and carefully field tested. You need either an iPhone or an iPad to get started. It also supports some additional accessories to enhance the experience.
How does it work?
BlindSquare uses GPS and the compass to locate you. It then gathers information about the surrounding environment from FourSquare. BlindSquare has some unique algorithms to decide what information is the most relevant and then speaks it to you with high quality speech synthesis. “What's the most popular café within 200 meters radius? Where is the post office or the library?”
You can control BlindSquare also through voice commands. The Voice Command feature is a premium service requiring purchase of credits for continuous use.
Current Version: 4.02 (September 25, 2016)
Changes in Version 4.0-4.02
- New: You can now control BlindSquare through voice commands. Double-tap the Voice Command button in the bottom left corner of the screen and say “help” to hear a list of the commands available. The Voice Command feature is a premium service requiring purchase of credits for continuous use. With the exception of the HELP command and unrecognized commands, each command consumes one credit. Voice Command Credits are available as an in-app purchase on the App Store.
- New: Public transport live data integration for Finland, the UK, New Zealand, and Denmark. You can shake your device or use the Audio Menu to hear the closest stop and next departures of buses and trains.
- New: Added iOS voice Alex as voice option in BlindSquare (iOS9 only)
- New: You can now order a 3D-printed tactile map of an area from within BlindSquare. Go to the location sharing options to find this new feature.
- Fix: Selected language is no longer saved in iCloud. Should you accidentally set BlindSquare to another language, you can uninstall the app. When it is reinstalled, it will automatically use the device language.
- New: Using 3D touch on the BlindSquare icon now lets you perform searches, add places, check in, and start the Look Around feature.
- New: BlindSquare now supports Spotlight Search. You can, for example, search for Chinese restaurants in Spotlight Search and then open the search result in BlindSquare.
- New: Time is now the last item in the Audio Menu. When it is activated, BlindSquare will announce the current date and battery level.
- New: Apple Maps and Google Maps are now listed as an option for "Public Transport".
- New: Support for Moovit public transport app
- Fix: Resolved a problem where the volume of VoiceOver would be decreased when using BlindSquare.
- New: User guide translated to Finnish, Italian, and Greek.
knfbReader (iOS, US$99.99)
Take a photo, the app reads the text in clear synthetic speech or with a connected Braille display. It’s as simple as that. The app also has synchronized text highlighting which reads along with the displayed text, a benefit for people with dyslexia and other reading disabilities.
KNFB Reader is fully accessible using VoiceOver. If you’re worried about getting the right photo, the app will help you. It has text detection so you know you have the printed side of the page. It also has tilt assist and viewfinder assist – the app helps you get the whole page photographed. Just a tap of the finger and the print is yours.
What can this app do? It can read receipts. Know what has been put on your card at restaurants, stores, or in taxis. And it’s fast –the print will be yours almost instantaneously.
KNFB reader can read labels. Want to know what came in the mail? Need nutritional information from your breakfast cereal? KNFB Reader captures it all.
Out shopping and need a price? KNFB Reader can read price tags and labels.
KNFB Reader captures print from your computer or tablet screen. Photograph the screen and know exactly what those error messages say.
KNFB Reader can export it to Dropbox or Google Drive. Once you’ve scanned it, the print is yours.
Can’t find a book through an accessible book service? Set your KNFB Reader to batch mode and scan the pages, and read them at your leisure.
Need to read your children’s homework sheets (or your own)? Notices from school? That print is now yours.
Current Version: 2.7.1 (September 7, 2016)
Changes in Version 2.7.1
- Supports iOS10;
- Use all available voices on your device in normal and enhanced quality;
- Take a picture using the volume up/down buttons of your device;
- Minor bug fixes and stability issues solved.
Sero (formerly iBlink Radio) (iOS, Free)
The Sero application, formerly known as iBlink Radio, is the world's first application for the visually impaired for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad! Radio stations, podcasts and reading services of special interest to blind and visually impaired persons; as well as their friends, family, caregivers and those wanting to know what life is like without eyesight.
Current Version: 3.0.2 (September 15, 2016)
Changes in Version 3.0.0-3.0.2
Sero is the latest evolution of the app formerly known as iBlink Radio, incorporating features from the service formerly known as SAMNet.
- Search is now much improved throughout the app. When searching Sero content, search results will now be displayed as you enter your query.
- You can now download content in the background. Sero will notify you when the download is finished.
- When playing a piece of content that you have previously listened to, whether on this device or another one, Sero will now ask you if you want to continue where you left off or start over.
- New features for users with an active Sero account:
- You can now participate in our voice chat rooms on your iOS device.
- When posting to a Sero community forum, you can now choose to post a voice message. When using an iPhone, simply lift the phone to your ear to record your message.
- For some Sero content, you can now play through multiple episodes continuously, and download them all at once.
- For logged-in users, the Sero app now has just one home screen, as opposed to an iBlink Radio home screen and a separate SAMNet home screen a level down.
- By default, when the app enters the background, whether because you switched apps or because you locked the screen, your mic will be muted, until the app comes back into the foreground. This is a configurable setting on the Settings tab in chat. Also, the first time the app enters the background while you're in a chat room, you'll get a notification explaining this behavior.
- The screen no longer automatically locks while you're in a chat room.
- This update fixes a few crashing bugs.
Recent News and Views
September was a busy month for software releases from Apple:
- Apple Releases iOS 10.0.2, Fixing Lightning EarPods bug, Photos Crash and App Extension Problems
- macOS 10.12 Sierra: What’s New and Changed for Blind and Low Vision Users
- The Accessibility Bugs in iOS 10 for Blind and Low Vision Users, From Serious To Minor
- Apple Releases iOS 10, Bringing a Range of Enhancements and New Features
- What’s New in iOS 10 Accessibility for Blind, Low Vision and Deaf-blind Users
- Apple Releases tvOS 10, Bringing a Range of Enhancements and New Features to the Fourth-Generation Apple TV
- Apple Releases watchOS 3, Bringing a Range of Enhancements and New Features to the Apple Watch
Why I Upgraded to the iPhone 7, Even Without the Headphone Jack
By Darrell Shandrow Hilliker | September 26, 2016
I considered skipping this iPhone due to the disappearance of the headphone jack, for about one second, then I moved back into reality and took the plunge. Why?
The iPhone 7 is much more than just a missing headphone jack, even for those of us in the connected, online blind community.
Image stabilization on the camera, now in both iPhone models, means it should be easier to receive remote sighted assistance through apps like BeSpecular and read printed material using the KNFB Reader. Furthermore, the dual camera lenses and large screen of the iPhone 7 Plus should benefit people with some usable sight.
The increased battery life, memory, processor and storage found in the iPhone 7 represent a significant performance boost for all users.
Sleeping With The Stars: Old Time Radio and my iPhone
By Morgan | September 14, 2016
In October of 1999, during a business trip to California, I had the opportunity to attend an exclusive private party on the retired luxury liner, the RMS Queen Mary. The former flagship of the White Star Line was reserved for this one very raucous bash. For me, parties usually involved two or three old friends and a single bottle of good wine. However, this was a fancy-pants event and because I am a plain old vanilla guy, I was now in way over my head.
My guide dog and I boarded the rowdy thousand-foot party boat. The gala host graciously assigned a staff person to walk with me and assist in my discovery of the multitude of food stations, music venues and bars. The Queen Mary had lots of bars.
As we walked along the decks and through the passageways, my human guide pointed out numerous live actors and actresses, who had been hired for the evening to impersonate famous dead ones. I was told they looked just like the originals. They also sounded and acted the same as their famous counterparts. We met with W. C. Fields, Mae West, Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart.
And then, I ran into Marilyn Monroe. I had seen a couple of her films, and I was aware of her history, but I never quite understood her sex appeal. As we approached the counterfeit starlet, she whispered in her sultry and silky voice, "What kind of dog is that?"
Recap of Apple's September 7 Event
By mehgcap | September 7, 2016
Today, Apple took the wraps off updates to its most popular product, and its wearable. We saw the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, as well as the long-anticipated Apple Watch 2. We also got hard dates for the public releases of the upcoming software updates across all of Apple's products. There was a lot covered today, so let's get right to it! If you like, you can follow along on the full video of the event.
iPhone 7: Better than Ever--mostly
To the surprise of no one at all, Apple kicked things off with the next generation of its most popular mobile device: the iPhone. The 6s, released a year previously, was the first to sport displays that know how hard you're pushing on them, 12mp cameras, and major internal updates that brought unheard-of speed and power to a device that still managed to be thin, strong, and durable. This year, they did all of that again, but kicked it up a notch. The result is what I can only describe as mouth-watering (a term I'll be hard-pressed to stop from applying to pretty much everything else I get to write about today).
First, let's talk about the bad news. As many had feared in the months leading up to this announcement, the iPhone 7 is Apple's first mobile device to lack a headphone jack. Yes, you read that correctly. Apple has decided that the future of audio lies in wireless (bluetooth and Airplay) and a new generation of wired connection. Namely, audio will now be served via the onboard Lightning port, or via your favorite wireless headphones/speakers. This offers a number of advantages, chief among them a major increase in digital audio quality. Without going into all the details, Apple has essentially concluded that music sounds much better when decoded through special chips built into Lightning-compatible audio devices, rather than through an internal chip meant to drive audio to any speaker or mixer you care to attach. But don't panic: if 3.5mm is still the only way to go for you, every iPhone 7 will include an adapter that will let you use your existing audio peripherals without any problem. It will also come with Apple's next-generation EarPods, which now end in a Lightning connector rather than the 3.5mm plug we all know and love.
AppleVis Launches New App Directory for Sharing Information on the Accessibility of Apple TV Apps
By AppleVis | September 6, 2016
We are pleased to announce the launch of an Apple TV App Directory to enable members of our community to share information about the accessibility of tvOS apps to blind and low vision users.
Since the launch of the Fourth-Generation Apple TV, it has been our desire to add an Apple TV App Directory to the AppleVis website. However, we delayed doing so in the hope that Apple would introduce a web-based interface for its Apple TV App Store, as not having this presents a number of issues. Most significantly, there is no easy way for people to retrieve information on an app; and there is no way for AppleVis site editors to check the accuracy and completeness of submitted information.
However, despite some hints that Apple may be working on providing online information on Apple TV apps, we have still to see any firm developments. In the meantime, we have been aware that members of our community are missing out on the opportunity to seek and share information on the accessibility of Apple TV apps. Thus, despite the aforementioned limitations, we have decided to launch an app directory for Apple TV apps—in the hopes that even if the information is not as complete as we would like, it will nevertheless provide value to the community.
This Month in Podcasts
What’s New in macOS Sierra
We have published a number of podcasts exploring some of the new features and changes in macOS 12 Sierra:
- What’s New in macOS Sierra: Siri Comes to the Mac
- Using the Universal Clipboard in iOS 10 and macOS Sierra to Copy and Paste Text, Images and Videos Between Devices
- Quick Tip: How to Disable "One Row Added" Announcements in macOS Sierra
Introduction to watchOS 3
David Woodbridge has recorded a number of podcasts in which he demonstrates some of the new features and changes in watchOS 3:
- New in watchOS 3: Rearranging or Deleting Apps from the Home Screen of your Apple Watch
- New in watchOS 3: Have Mickey Mouse or Minnie Mouse Tell you the Time
- New in watchOS 3: A New Way to Check Your Heartbeat
- New in watchOS 3: Use Your iPhone to Locate Your Apple Watch
- New in watchOS 3: Exploring the New Breathe App
- New in watchOS 3: Accessing and Using the New Dock Feature
- New in watchOS 3: Selecting Complications to Auto-Speak When Your Apple Watch Wakes
- New in watchOS 3: Introducing Taptic Time Telling
Exploring Some of the New and Changed Features in iOS 10
In this podcast, Thomas Domville introduces us briefly to some of what’s new and changed in iOS 10.
Topics covered in the podcast include:
- New voices for VoiceOver
- An alternate way of moving Home Screen icons
- Changes to the Lock Screen, Notification Center and Control Center
- A pronunciation dictionary for VoiceOver
- Some native iOS apps can new be ‘deleted’
- A magnifier
- Registering to be an organ donor directly from within the Health app (US only)
- Changes to the Mail app; including threaded messages and a different way to hear previews
- Changes to the Notes app
- Using 3D Touch to quickly find which apps in a Home screen folder have notifications
- Changes to the Photos app; including object recognition
- Voice Mail transcriptions
- Changes to the News app
- Receiving reminders that it’s ‘bedtime’
- Changes to the Music app
- New options when using Touch ID to unlock your device
- Changes to the Messages app
- A new Home app for controlling HomeKit devices
- Unlimited tabs in Safari
- Changes to Game Center
- Using 3D Touch to pause app downloads
Exploring Some of What’s New for Blind and Low Vision Users in watchOS 3
In this podcast, Scott Davert demonstrates some of the new features and changes for blind and low vision users in watchOS 3.
Topics covered include:
- Choose what you want VoiceOver to ‘auto-speak’ when your Apple Watch wakes
- Taptic time telling
- A new way for VoiceOver users to rearrange app icons
- The new Control Center
Exploring Water Lock on the Series 2 Apple Watch
Lisa Salinger walks you through enabling and disabling this feature on the Series 2 Apple Watch.
A Demonstration of Grand Clock for iOS
In this podcast, Randy Rusnak gives us a demonstration of Grand Clock - Chiming Grandfather Clock for iOS. This simple-to-use alarm clock costs 99 cents in U.S. funds, and provides additional chimes with in-app purchases.
AppleVis Extra 46: What's New in iOS 10 and More!
With the latest release of Apple's iOS 10, tvOS, and watchOS operating systems, there are a lot of new features, both mainstream and accessibility-related to learn about. In this AppleVis Extra, Scott Davert, Lisa Salinger, and Thomas Domville discuss the good, the bad, and the uncertain as it relates to Apple's latest offerings. Be sure to check out all of the accompanying blogs and podcasts from AppleVis detailing the subjects covered in this episode.
AppleVis Extra 45: Learn All About Nearby Explorer with Rob Meridith from The American Printing House for the Blind
Few apps have been anticipated more eagerly by iOS users than Nearby Explorer from the American Printing House for the Blind. Many are calling this app the GPS solution they have been awaiting for a long time. In this episode of The AppleVis Extra, Scott Davert and Jamie Pauls talk with APH programmer Rob Meridith about Nearby Explorer. Rob gives us a live demo of many of the app's features, and provides a glimpse into the future of the product.
At this time, Nearby Explorer is only available in the US and Canada.
A complete list of all podcasts posted to the AppleVis website can be found at www.applevis.com/podcasts