AppleVis Unlimited: What's New and Noteworthy for April 2017
Welcome to the April 2017 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
Accessible MasterMind (iOS, US$0.99)
Accessible Mastermind is the classic color code-breaking board game. Crack the code in the fewest tries possible. Choose a combination using 6 colors. There could be also the same color in the sequence.
This game is compatible with voiceOver. Blind users can enjoy the fun this game offers.
This game is the first accessible cocos2d-x game in the world. Welcome to have a try.
Current Version: 1.1 (April 24, 2017)
Blindfold Connect (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Blindfold Connect is a fully accessible audio game, inspired by the puzzle game Connect Four.
It's a two-player connection game in which the players first choose a color and then take turns dropping colored discs from the top into a seven-column, six-row vertically suspended grid. The pieces fall straight down, occupying the next highest space within the column.
The objective of the game is to be the first to form a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line of four of one's own discs..
Current Version: 1.1.2 (April 26, 2017)
Blindfold Invaders (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases
Blindfold Invaders is a fully accessible audio game, inspired by the video game Space Invaders. The objective is to shoot all of the invaders before they land on your planet.
There are several rows of space ships, that move left and right, starting at the top of the playing field, furthest from the home button. The ships move back and forth, heading down towards your planet. You must shoot them, and avoid being shot.
The more invaders you shoot, the higher you score. The more times you get shot, the lower your health score. When you shoot all the invaders, you move on to the next level.
There are several games of varying difficulty, and varying number of levels. Each level is harder than the prior level.
Current Version: 1.3.5 (April 18, 2017)
PlaySections (iOS, US$0.99)
PlaySections is an audio/video player that allows you to freely set marks and play back specific sections of your audio/video files. For example, while you're playing music, you can insert marks where the song transitions between the verse and the chorus, dividing the song into sections. Then you can pick a section from the generated section list and listen to any part of the song.
For each section title, you can enter multiple lines of text. As a result, in addition to verse/chorus labels, you can make notes about the chord progression, measure count, lyrics, and so on, offering a tool that you can use for many purposes.
PlaySections supports section and song loop playback, allowing you to listen to your favorite section on loop. It also features useful functionality including tempo/playback speed adjustment, pitch shift, vocal cancellation, 7 band equalizer, and flip video, making it a perfect app to use in instrument, vocal, or dance practice, or when playing music by ear.
Current Version: 2.3.1 (April 26, 2017)
Prizmo Go - Instant Text Capture (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Aim at text. Shoot. It's yours! Prizmo Go lets you quickly grab printed text with the camera. After text is recognized in a blink of an eye, you can interact with it in many useful ways. Or just send it to other apps. And if you've got a Mac, you can even copy/paste it there (*). No more retyping. Feels like magic, just at your finger tips.
Additionally, Prizmo Go provides rich interactions with the captured text. After shooting, text from the original picture is revealed, and swiping through it allows fast and accurate text selection directly from the image. Selected text can then be read aloud, or you can tap to browse to any printed website address, call phone numbers, trigger Mail app from an email address, or even reveal physical address in Apple Maps and initiate navigation to that place.
Prizmo Go comes with enhancements specifically built for VoiceOver, in addition to spoken guidance prior to shooting. That, combined with its text-to-speech capabilities, make it a great companion in case you need help reading printed documents.
Current Version: 1.0 (April 27, 2017)
Read Prizmo Go's AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Prizmo Go's App Store page
Read the AppleVis forum thread in which the developers announce the release of Prizmo Go, and respond to some questions and feedback
Talking Typer (iOS, US$4.99)
Talking Typer finally makes its way to iOS. Help students make typing progress with this fun-to-use self-voicing app!
An accessible typing and computer keyboard tutorial app with a keyboard game to help increase speed and accuracy in a fun environment!
Learn to type or improve your skills with drills, practice lessons, keyboard explorer, and an entertaining game. It is designed for blind and visually impaired students, but can be used by sighted students too. This makes it a great tool for the whole class. Works with iOS® devices running iOS 8 or later.
Talking TyperTM for iOS devices comes with 35 built-in lessons at levels 1-10. Teachers and parents can create new lessons, edit lessons, and assign lessons to individual students or groups. Speed, accuracy, and typing level can also be set for individual students or groups. The app saves the results of each drill allowing students, teachers, and parents to monitor improvement.
The app also includes the exciting game Hurry Scurry, where students earn points by typing letters before the ball drops. It’s fun for all ages and skill levels!
The app is both self-voicing and accessible with Apple’s VoiceOver. The onboard keyboard of your device can be used with Talking Typer, but an external keyboard is recommended. The app can also be used with a refreshable braille display, like APH’s Refreshabraille 18TM Bluetooth®-enabled device, making it accessible for students who are deafblind as well.
Current Version: 1..6 (April 27, 2017)
Tooth Fairy (macOS, US$1.99)
Single click away from your favorite bluetooth devices.
Tooth Fairy helps you to switch connection of selected bluetooth devices, for example, AirPods, directly from menu bar or even global hotkey. You can do it with the system bluetooth menu bar but Tooth Fairy can save you a few clicks
Current Version: 2.1 (April 12, 2017)
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.
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.
Current Version: 4.27 (April 18, 2017)
Changes in Version 4.26-4.27
Fix - VoiceOver Bug: A VoiceOver bug, introduced in iOS v.10, has been corrected. Now, auto-updating fields works again. When you leave VoiceOver cursor over a data field, you will hear changes automatically. (Examples, compass, speed, heading, etc.)
Feature - New Message Types: BlindSquare BPS (Indoor navigation) will gain new types (examples, fire exits and pedestrian crossing) providing identifying tones preceding spoken details.
Feature - Improved Compass: Improved management of COMPASS while indoors. We have accelerated the response-to-turns and suppressed the signalling from GPS sources while operating within a beacon cloud, preventing stray messaging triggered by location changes.
Feature - Perkins BlindWays Integration: In March, at CSUN, we jointly announced a partnership between Perkins School for the Blind (Perkins) and BlindSquare supporting the delivery of the greatest transit information solution in North America. Perkins has created an incredible product called BlindWays on the iOS platform. BlindWays gathers, from crowd-sources, inner-circle information for the areas around bus stops. Detailed are descriptions, cautions and clues to best-support the transit rider as they approach their bus stop. Examples on approach, to learn of the presence of bus shelters, landmarks in proximity, trash containers, and more including a description of the actual location of the stop (ie, “on a post”). This, to provide micro-navigation within the inner circle but more, independence. BlindWays provides meaningful descriptions, using consistent language, raising confidence in travel. BlindWays, sponsored by Google, is celebrating its first deployment in Boston, Massachusetts in the USA. 7800 bus stops will soon be fully described with 70% now available.
We were approached by Google and Perkins to explore the connecting of services between BlindSquare (providing global travel support, live and simulated) to BlindWays information (providing inner circle navigation within the 5 meter/16 feet) of benefit to our common friend, the traveler who is blind/partially-sighted or deaf-blind. We shared the vision of the logic and desire to connect the services. BlindSquare version 4.26 presents this solution.
Friends in Boston now have the following features available::
- Automatically, on approach to bus stops, advise about the route and bus services specific to the location. This includes expected arrival times, by bus.
- On request, by shaking the device OR by pressing the Fast/Forward button on Media controls (whether wired or bluetooth), hear secondary transit information regarding service changes or disruptions.
- On request, by pressing the Fast/Forward or rewind button ons Media controls (whether wired or bluetooth), skip-forward or back, through messaging to speed access to information of greatest interest or to review.
- On request, by shaking by shaking the device OR by pressing the Fast/Forward button on Media controls (whether wired or bluetooth), hear BlindWays’ detailed descriptions of “the inner circle” on approach to the stop. No longer, the risk of standing in a wrong location only to hear the bus expected, driving by.
- On request, by using the simple Voice Command or the Audio Menu selection “Bus” - request the information relative to the location of interest. Locations can be simulated from any global location, across the city or across the globe. Example, search for “145 Dartmouth Boston”, Simulate this location. Speak the Voice Command “Bus”. Listen, shake as you may wish to unlock secondary information including Service Disruption announcements and BlindWays data.
Capti Voice Narrator (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Listen to everything you want to read on the go and at your leisure!
You can listen to any content from Safari, Chrome, GoogleDrive, Dropbox, Bookshare, or Gutenberg. Whether you are a student, a language learner, a commuter, a busy professional, a retiree, or a person with dyslexia or other print disabilities, Capti will improve your productivity and make your reading more enjoyable. Synchronize your Playlist and switch seamlessly between your devices.
- Text to Speech: Turn any text into an audiobook; listen hands-free and eyes-free
- Save for Later: Save documents and web articles for later in your Playlist and access it even offline; synchronize your Playlist and your reading position across all your devices
- Sophisticated Navigation: Jump to the next/previous word, sentence, paragraph, heading, or page
- Screen-Reader Support: Extensively customized for VoiceOver
PREMIUM PLAN BENEFITS
- Full-text search of your Playlist: The search algorithm is intelligent, and will guess the best matching tracks even when the exact match cannot be found
- Store and view images with text: In tracks created from EPUB, PDF, or DOC(X) documents you will be able to see both text and images
- File Size Limit: Add documents and books that are up to 100MB in size; default limit is 10MB
- Word Translation: Right-click any word in the track to translate the word to your language (available on Windows and Mac only)
- Create Playlists: Stay organized by saving tracks into different playlists.
- Safari, Chrome, or the built-in browser
- Any browser on your Mac or PC (visit www.captivoice.com)
- Project Gutenberg: 49,000+ titles of public domain literature
- Bookshare: 300,000+ titles for people with print disabilities
- Google Drive
- Copy-paste via clipboard
- Share from other apps
- Email attachments
- Other Capti users (AirDrop)
PDF, DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, RTF, TXT, EPUB, ODT, ODP, ZIP, HTML, HTM
Current Version: 2.6 (April 24, 2017)
Changes in Version 2.6
Usability is the most important aspect in any app. We have taken your suggestions to heart. An we’re introducing our brand new iOS interface! With an engaging color scheme and more intuitive functionality, you will be able to use Capti with more confidence than ever before.
You can now:
- Customize the order of tracks within each of your playlists
- Open the track’s content and tap anywhere to enter the full-screen mode
- Organizational account subscribers will also enjoy higher quality OCR and be able to upload tracks from physical worksheets and textbooks
Dark Sky Weather (iOS, US$3.99)
Dark Sky can tell you at a glance exactly when it will rain (or snow) up to an hour in advance, so you’re free to walk the dog or run out to lunch and know you’ll stay dry. You can also explore the most beautiful weather animation you’ve ever seen, both forward in time or back.
YOUR WEATHER, DOWN TO THE MINUTE: Using GPS, Dark Sky is able to create forecasts for your precise location, giving you minute-by-minute predictions for the next hour and hour-by-hour forecasts for the next day and week.
PUSH NOTIFICATIONS: Dark Sky comes with advanced notification options: Receive down-to-the-minute alerts before it starts raining at your exact location, get notified of governmen> t severe weather alerts (for such things as thunderstorms, flooding, hurricanes, etc), or even create your own custom notifications covering the next 24 hours for things like temperature, wind, precipitation and more. Even if you haven't opened the app in days, Dark Sky will tell you what you need to know, when you need to know it.
(Dark Sky is available in the US, UK and Ireland.)
Current Version: 5.2.9 (April 18, 2017)
Changes in Version 5.2.9
- VoiceOver improvements
- Fix for Widget crashes / wonky updating
- Fix for occasional Apple Watch complication update issues
- Other misc. bug fixes and tweaks
Drafts - Quickly Capture Notes, Share Anywhere! (iOS, US$4.99)
Drafts is the quick, easy way to capture and share text. In Drafts, text comes first – open the app and get a new, blank draft – ready to type. Don't get bogged down in a timeline to tweet or post to Facebook. Don't tap your way through multiple screens to get down an email or SMS. Don't navigate folders, create files and name them just to jot down a note or create a todo.
Current Version: 4.7.7 (April 12, 2017)
Changes in Version 4.7.7
- Fix: Cleanup of a few VoiceOver labels on Apple Watch.
- New: Apple Watch now has options to prepend and append to drafts with Scribble in addition to dictation.
- Change: A couple of minor visual tweaks in the Share extension.
- Change: If "Create new draft after" setting was set to "Never", Drafts would not enter editing mode on launch.
- Fix: If a script step called "commit(draft);" it was possible subsequent steps in the same action which required a UI (prompt, email) would not appear properly.
KNFB Reader (iOS, US$99.99)
Take a pic. The app reads the print. The app helps you get a good photo! Hear it aloud, or read in Braille.
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 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.
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.
Winner of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 AppleVis Golden Apple Award for Best Assistive Technology App.
Current Version: 2.7.3 (April 20, 2017)
Changes in Version 2.7.3
- New app icon and splash screen added;
- Czech user interface language added;
- Fixes a crash some users experienced when taking a picture;
- The "volume up" button will now take a picture and the "volume down" button will execute field of view;
- Fixes some minor issues with voice-over accessibility.
MBraille (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
MBraille brings you a mobile braille keyboard. With the free features you can type, edit and send tweets and text messages using contracted or uncontracted English braille.
With the full version you can also use braille to
- call contacts or telephone numbers
- send email
- do facebook status updates
- add calendar entries
- fire away internet search engine queries
- the text typed is automatically put to clipboard when you switch apps.
- interact with other 3rd party applications
- check spelling
- save and open text files
- sync to dropbox
- use MBraille as third party keyboard
The keyboard is also available as a separate in-app purchase.
Current Version:3.72 (April 26, 2017)
Changes in April
- > UEB, Unified English Braille is now supported. The support is optional and can be enabled in the MBraille settings.
- Other miscellaneous fixes: vibration for a spelling mistake, Danish braille fixes, MBraille third party Keyboard
- UEB fixes
Newsify: Your News, Blog & RSS Feed Reader (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Read and share your favorite websites and blogs with an amazing newspaper-like layout.
- All of your news, blogs and RSS feeds in one free reader app!
- Sync with Feedly or Newsify or use without an account and sync with iCloud
- Access Newsify on your computer at newsify.co (requires Newsify account)
- Newspaper-like article list and traditional table list available (thumbnails displayed when available)
- Background syncing with notifications
- Offline reading including image caching
- Unread articles widget (requires iOS 10)
- View and save images by tapping-and-holding image
- Night mode (automatic/manual, enabled in settings)
- Themes (light, sepia, gray)
- In-app Safari view (see Open Links setting)
- Full-text view (pinch out in the article view or enable swipe in Article Browser settings)
- Article search (pull down subscription list for search bar)
- Multiple accounts
- Full screen article reading (tap text to toggle)
- Full screen original web page browser (two finger tap to toggle)
- Pull to move between articles
- Pull to refresh article list
- Show only unread folders/subscriptions or all
- Show all articles or just unread
- Sort by newest or oldest first
- Mark previous & all as read
- Tap-and-hold to mark read and toggle starred
- Option to mark read while scrolling & pull up to mark all as read (enable in settings)
- Landscape view
- Fully customizable sync
- Add and edit subscriptions
- Add custom feed URLs (enter URLs in feed search box and tap Search)
- Automatically sync on start
- Share articles with many popular services: Facebook, Twitter, Buffer, Delicious, Evernote, Google+, Instapaper, LinkedIn, Pinboard, Pinterest, Pocket and Tumblr
- Email articles or links, copy links or open the original web page in the app or in Safari or Chrome
- View original articles with Google mobilizer
- Browse individual subscriptions contained in a folder (tap-and-hold folders or tap gray circle icon on right side of folder entry)
Current Version: 4.8 (April 25, 2017)
Changes in Version 4.8
* Newsify for the web is now available! Go to newsify.co on your computer and click Sign In (requires a Newsify account with a username - see Account setting for more info) * Added setting for 3D Touch Subscription List action to enable toggling Show Subscriptions setting (disabled by default, under Article/Subscription List) * Added extra huge article font size for iPad * Additional bug fixes and improvements
Overcast: Podcast Player (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
A powerful yet simple audio podcast player, with features such as Smart Speed, Voice Boost, and Smarter Playlists to help you listen to more podcasts in more places, try new shows, and completely control your experience.
Overcast is a modern, fully featured audio podcast player with many useful features in a simple, intuitive interface:
Current Version: 3.1.2 (April 27, 2017)
Notable Changes in April 2017
Standalone Apple Watch playback! In any downloaded episode's Queue menu (⁺?), select "Send to Watch". Pending transfers show in Downloads screen.
Improved standalone Watch playback: - Volume control with Digital Crown - Speaker output if no headphones are connected - More reliable in the background.
The Watch app also now has Previous/Next Episode by 3D Touch, and the Phone side can now browse all podcasts and playlists.
Twitterrific 5 for Twitter (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Twitterrific is the award-winning, elegant Twitter client that’s easy to understand and a delight to use. Tweeting has never been simpler or so much fun!
Browse Twitter free from the clutter of promoted tweets. Use Muffles to hide tweets containing words, phrases, people and hashtags from the timeline that you don't want to see. Customize fonts, avatar sizes, image thumbnails and more via the theme panel. Quickly respond to tweets, change accounts or view conversation threads with a minimum of effort using gestures. Rich media support including multiple images & Twitter animated GIFs.
Robust VoiceOver support means Twitterrific is fully accessible for users with vision impairments. Extensive keyboard shortcuts make Twitterrific a breeze to use with an external keyboard.
Current Version: 5.17 (April 28 2017)
Changes in Version 5.17
- Replies have been redesigned to conform with Twitter’s new display guidelines. The screen names of participants in the conversation are displayed on a single line just below the name of the reply author
- Tapping on (or previewing with 3D Touch) the participants opens the conversation thread
- Long-pressing on the participants (or drag up while previewing using 3D Touch) allows quick access to their profiles
- Responding to multiple people now includes an editor for choosing the recipients
- Tap the clear button (X), hit backspace on the keyboard, or tap on the character counter to quickly remove all but the author of the tweet you are replying to
- Tweet and quoted tweets hide the screen name if there isn’t enough horizontal space to display both the screen name and the full name side by side
- Keyboard focus is restored after attaching images to a tweet
- Viewing a quoted tweet that quoted a different tweet now displays it properly instead of showing a link to Twitter
- Tapping on a profile’s header image opens the full resolution image
- Added physical keyboard shortcuts to direct messages: Navigate threads with up/down arrows, CMD-T (or spacebar or return) to open the selected thread, CMD-N (or tab or return) to move focus to the input field, CMD-W to close a thread
- Up/down arrow keys on a physical keyboard will now select the first visible tweet if on a timeline without a currently selected tweet
- Selecting a tweet (manually or via keyboard) marks it & everything older as read
- Improved performance when autocompleting mentions or hashtags
- Improved timeline scrolling performance
- Fixed an issue with the image attachment panel that could allow it to attach too many additional images to a tweet that already had images attached
- Fixed memory leaks when composing a tweet
Viskey (iOS, US$3.99)
Viskey is the Visible Keyboard
With large text preview and good contrast, Viskey lets you leave your reading glasses in your pocket.
Viskey is an easy to use accessible keyboard that doesn't sacrifice modern features. It offers spelling support, auto-correction and auto-capitalization. You can use cursor keys to review existing text in larger type.
- Text preview with size adjustment for all text fields.
- Cursor keys, double tap to move by word.
- Spell Check
- System Shortcuts
- User Dictionary
- Configurable black on white
- Optional key popup with big font
Supported layouts: English, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Turkish, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish. Layout can be changed on the fly, with automatic switching of spell-check language.
Current Version: 2.2 (April 24, 2017)
Changes in Version 2.2
Various bugs mercilessly squashed, compatibility with various apps improved.
Weather Gods (iOS, US$2.99)
Meet the Gods: Fire, Ice, Water, Air & Moon delivering you the Weather as you have never experienced it before. Weather Gods redefines the weather app with painstakingly crafted data visualizations, procedural graphics and audio that enable you to literally see, hear and feel the weather. With no more weather icons to decode, the Weather Gods is simply the quickest, most engaging, most enjoyable way to get the accurate weather information you need.
The Weather Gods skillfully integrates premium weather data into an elegant, iOS Exclusive, easy-to-use interface that will delight casual users and weather enthusiasts alike.
With a wealth of rich weather data from the world’s most respected providers, the Weather Gods provide detailed site-based forecasts for over a million locations worldwide. Our advanced, next-generation notifications are easy to setup and bring you exactly the information you want right when you need it.
Current Version: 1.1.2 (April 18, 2017)
Changes in April
UPDATE: We listened to feedback and have now updated to display the feels like temperature alongside the actual temperature NEW: Voiceover users can swipe down with three fingers to change the god on the timeline NEW: Seven day hourly charts NEW: Seven day hourly voiceover timeline NEW: Follow me weather; update the weather as you travel around NEW: Feels like temperature; globally applied throughout the app (change insettings) NEW: Smart voiceover weather forecasts in the Weather Wheel; we prioritise grade the weather on an hour by hour basis NEW: Localised for Spanish NEW: added a feels like temperature line to the weather wheel UPDATE: Small tweaks to localisation for Spanish UPDATE: Smarter location management. We now try and load a preferred location UPDATE: Improvements to the sunrise and sunset transitions UPDATE: Voiceover counts down the minutes until sunrise or sunset UPDATE: Weather Gods time locked to the device time UPDATE: Sleet notification improved UPDATE: Weather wheel usability improvements with voiceover; no moretapping to hear the weather UPDATE: Voiceover no longer speaks the temperature units UPDATE: Voiceover provides hints for new users searching for a location UPDATE: UV index added to voiceover announcements about ultraviolet rays UPDATE: Switched to using push notifications from IBM UPDATE: Greek localisation UPDATE: Handle missing observations UPDATE: Improve the way we handle the daylight saving transition UPDATE: You can now have SEVEN favourite locations UPDATE: Voiceover now identifies if a location is a GPS location FIX: Stopped a crash that occurs when registering for push notifications. FIX: Correctly handle data from Vostok, Antartica FIX: Air chart crashes during daylight saving transition FIX: voiceover reading wrong value for daily low feels like temperature
Recent News and Views
Apple Slashes App Store Referral Commission Rates; Which Makes Now a Great Time to Show Your Support for AppleVis by Making a Micro-Donation
By AppleVis | April 26, 2017
It's likely that some of you will have read reports over the past few days on how Apple has announced that it is reducing its App Store affiliate program commission rate from 7% all the way down to 2.5%; starting May1.
For the unfamiliar, this affiliate program enables online content publishers to use a referral link when linking to apps in the App Store. If people follow one of these links, a tiny percentage of any resulting sale is paid by Apple to the originating website as a commission.
With online ad revenue in decline, these affiliate commissions have become a significant revenue stream for many websites that write aboutApple and apps. Some popular and high-profile websites, such as TouchArcade, are already writing of how this 65% cut to commission earnings may result in them no longer being financially viable and lead to their closure. Early signs certainly hint at rough times ahead for some of the sources that many of us rely on for Apple and App Store news.
We use referral links on AppleVis; not because we have wages to pay (remember, all of those involved with running AppleVis, do so on a voluntary basis and receive no financial recompense for their time), but because there are financial costs from maintaining and developing AppleVis for the community.
We want to stress that the changes to Apple's affiliate program should not bring into question the continued existence of AppleVis. However, as we receive no external funding, the reality is that it will make it harder to cover the bills. This is why we are asking you all to consider helping. by making a regular micro-donation towards the upkeep of AppleVis.
Currently, fewer than 0.06% of the people who are registered AppleVis users make a regular micro-donation (that's 0.1% of those who receive our monthly newsletter; 0.08% of those who follow us on Twitter; and 0.004% of the unique visitors to the website in a typical month). We understand that not everybody is in a position to financially help - and we truly appreciate each and everybody that already does. However, if we could bump this number up to only 1%, any concerns about keeping the lights turned on at AppleVis would immediately be eased.
We truly hate having to post this kind of request to the community. However, if you believe that the value of AppleVis to you and others is worth the equivalent cost of just one app each month, then do please consider making a regular micro-donation. Of course, if you prefer, you can also make a one-off donation, which would be equally welcome and appreciated. Additionally, do please continue to follow the links on AppleVis when planning to download an app from the App Store.
Reconciling piano practice with iOS apps: Does VoiceOver like the tune?
By Amir | April 24, 2017
I started taking piano lessons for the first time in the so-called days of yore -- that is, when I was 12 years old and, like many teenagers, didn't appreciate the value of getting my feet wet in the field at that opportune age. I was simultaneously attending English classes and, given the fact that I didn't have a piano at home to practice, I even came to the conclusion that the time I might spend at, or on, the piano can be devoted to English. As an Iranian I knew how mastering English could provide me with a whole host of opportunities -- something I don't regret to this day. I used to listen to Kim Andrew Elliott's awesome program, Communications World, on Short Wave, courtesy of my improving English skills. The particular episode mentioned here was aired in 1999, is dedicated to the visually impaired and technology, and is quite interesting.
To put it in a nutshell, all of that language tinkering meant that I decided not to continue my piano classes after six months, and the fact that I had to transcribe my own Beyer didn't help at all. Later I entered university, received my BA and MA in English Literature and TESL respectively, and had no time to think about my rough patch with piano lessons though piano remained my most favorite instrument.
However, almost eight months ago I came across an engaging BBC article titled Adult piano lessons: Never too late to learn? and decided to become one of those adult piano learners at the age of 36. The points raised in the article resonated with me in a way that I thought someone had written it to reinvigorate my love of piano.
Announcing an Enhancement to the AppleVis App Directories and Accessibility Ratings
By AppleVis | April 18, 2017
We are pleased to announce the launch of community accessibility ratings, giving members of the AppleVis community an opportunity to submit their own accessibility ratings for all apps listed in one of our App Directories.
When viewing an App Directory entry, logged-in users will now be presented with the option to add their own accessibility rating of the app. By submitting your own ratings, you help to ensure that our information regarding what is likely to be the first thing that most in this community will want to know about an app—its accessibility status—is as accurate, representative and up-to-date as possible.
An app which has additional ratings submitted by members of the community will have a tab titled "Community Accessibility Ratings", where you can view details of all the submitted ratings. As an example, see the entry for Overcast: Podcast Player.
User profile pages now include a section where you can view all of the ratings that the user has submitted; there is a standalone page where you can view all accessibility ratings, on all apps, by all users; and the five most recent ratings will be displayed in a new area of the site's home page.
The rating list on profile pages makes it easy to keep track of your own ratings. Additionally, if you have submitted a rating for an app, your rating and it's date will be shown to you on the App Directory entry itself.
We believe that the introduction of community accessibility ratings will benefit those wanting to learn about the accessibility of an app; whether that be an end user or the developer. in the case of developers, community accessibility ratings provide a quick and easy way of getting an overview of how blind and low vision users rate the accessibility of an app.
We hope that you find community accessibility ratings to be both helpful and informative.
Yo, human! - Proofreading Mac, a VoiceOver Activity: Accessing Life with Adaptive Technology
By Nicholas | April 5, 2017
Before my VoiceOver adventures began I was able to proofread my creative and technical writings quickly and easily. My constant struggle with grammar aside, I could find misspellings and punctuation errors, even capitalization and formatting issues with ease. I could quickly blast through multi-page documents in a matter of minutes. Then my longtime visual orientation completely evolved into an audible one. This presented many new challenges to overcome, including proof-reading by listening.
I explored many avenues of adaptation to help me navigate my computer before learning VoiceOver. One of the first was the Speakable Items feature of previous Mac OSs. I used AppleScript to automate many functions including sending keystrokes to the computer then changing them to spoken commands using Speakable Items. Using AppleScript's "say" command, I even had my Mac orally responding to my spoken commands. I could say "Computer" and it would often reply with "Good guess!" However, changes in my own approach and in the OS began to make this situation less applicable. I discovered that quick verbal navigation, while helping tremendously, would not be enough. As my path towards VoiceOver progressed my need for proofing my materials became both more apparent and more of an unknown.
When the Dictation feature was introduced, I dove in thinking that this would increase my writing speeds immensely, which it did. Unfortunately, it also increased my need for proof-reading as well. I remember emailing a colleague, trying to explain some of the issues and how I had to watch for phonetically misspelled words. His somewhat humorous reply was "Fanatically misspelled words?" Case in point, I now use Dictation sporadically and mostly on iOS. However, the Dictation service definitely deserves another future look.
I could be considered a mid-speed tripod typist, poking at the keyboard with three fingers on each hand. Because of my narrowed eyesight, I had perfected my typing skills by looking at the keyboard rather than the computer screen. I took it on faith that my typing was actually appearing in my document. I only occasionally looked up to confirm what I was creating. This "writing on faith" method became inappropriate over time along with the others, but were a very good precursor to my headlong dive into VoiceOver. Throughout the several years of these methods it was becoming apparent that proof-reading by listening would be a huge part of my future.
Now after a few years of using VoiceOver exclusively I am finding several VO methods that are beginning to help. I should state that I am by no means an expert at this, I am still going through much of the learning curve myself. One of the things that I discovered was the use of VO's Activities and using them to help me proof-read my materials. While not being a complete solution, the methods described below seem to be a good couple of additions to the process.
Sounds In The Sofa: Learning To Love My AirPods
By Morgan | April 1, 2017
Many years ago, my family and I went to the pet store to do a little shopping for my guide dog. My twelve year old son and my wife wandered off into some other part of the store while Fantom, my Golden Retriever guide, and I went on our own little adventure.
As Fantom and I explored the toy aisle, I felt a hand brush against mine and it made me smile. I reached out, took the proffered hand, and kept walking. One of the great joys of being a blind father is that it remains socially acceptable for a son in middle school to still hold hands with his dad.
The two of us walked for a bit and then he slowed to a stop. Still holding my hand, he turned to me and said in an unfamiliar Texas drawl, "Howdy stranger. Why are ya holding my hand?"
This Month in Podcasts
A Demonstration of Talking Typer for iOS
In this podcast, David Woodbridge gives us a demonstration of Talking Typer for iOS. Talking Typer is "An accessible typing and computer keyboard tutorial app with a keyboard game to help increase speed and accuracy in a fun environment!" The app costs $4.99 in the U.S.
A Demonstration of Crafting Kingdom
In this podcast, William Lomas demonstrates Crafting Kingdom, an iOS game that has recently become popular among many in the blind community.
The following description is quoted from the app store:
Every empire starts small!
Build production sites, and start crafting resources. Harvest logs, coal, iron and many other goods. Then craft them into more valuable items and sell them on the market! Complete quests, build your own estate, and become the richest merchant in all of Crafting Kingdom!
Crafting Kingdom is a lovingly crafted (pun intended!) idle crafting game with a huge amount of goods to produce, complex production chains and plenty of quests for you to complete.
A complete list of all podcasts posted to the AppleVis website can be found at www.applevis.com/podcasts