AppleVis Unlimited: What's New and Noteworthy for December 2017
Welcome to the December 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
Cyberduck (macOS, Free)
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such as Spotlight, Bonjour, Keychain, and AppleScript are built-in.
Cyberduck is an Open-Source product licensed under the GPL and free to use. Donations are welcome to help advance development in the future. Thanks to contributors, Cyberduck is available in English, Japanese, German, Catalan, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Russian, and Polish.
Current Version: 6.3.2 (December 13, 2017)
iSpending - Expense Tracker (iOS, Free With In-App Purchase)
If you are looking for the best personal finance application, this is the app for you and it's free! Millions of downloads cannot be wrong!
iSpending helps you to track your income and spendings. You can add transactions under different categories, such as income, food, entertainment. Summaries for today/week/month/year are displayed right at home page. You can view detailed report for each month in beautiful graphs and find transaction easily through search. Try it yourself to see more features, you'll love it!
- Add income/expense transactions under different category
- Add customize spending category name
- Add transactions quickly
- Instant summary for today/week/month/year
- Passcode lock
- Export through email
- View history records and compare them
- Graph report for 1, 3 or 6 months time period
- Separate graph report for income or expense alone
- Search for transaction by name, amount, note or any of them
- Polished UI, easy to use
Current Version: 1.0.10 (December 29, 2017)
Little Ben, Haptic Feedback, Time Haptic Feedback (watchOS, Free)
With LittleBen you can send haptics feedback in relation to time, in the background and with different modalities, among them:
Why would I find it useful:
- Situations in which you need to know how much time has passed and you have difficulties to see the watch screen (Public speaking, Work, While you are walking, While you are swimming)
- You can save the sessions to see the number of minutes/hours consumed.
- Minute counter / Hour counter: A number of minutes with haptic signals will be sent. For example, if you start the session when 3 minutes pass your Apple Watch will vibrate 3 times and so on until you stop it.
- Hour Chime: When an hour is reached you would receive the number of the hour in a haptics amount. For example, at 5 o'clock you will receive 5 vibrations and so on until you stop it.
- Specific mode of minutes/hours to count.
- You can change the type of haptic to be very soft or stronger
- You can select haptics manually to start dozens (In the case of 12 minutes or 12 hours the 10 will be a specific haptic unlike the unit)
Current Version: 2.0 (December 20, 2017)
All recent app entries posted to AppleVis can be found at:
Notable App Updates
Dolphin EasyReader (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
EasyReader is a FREE accessible reading app for readers with dyslexia, low vision or blindness. Browse & download from the World's largest collection of talking book and newspaper libraries. Or copy text from anywhere on your phone & hear EasyReader read it back to you. Experience perfectly synchronized text & audio. Or for text only titles, EasyReader can add a human sounding voice of your choice. Boost comfort or contrast - choose colours, text size and highlights to suit your visual needs.
Make your books' text as big as your eyes require. Unlike other mainstream reading apps, there's no restriction with EasyReader. Zoom in with a standard 2 finger pinch or make fine adjustments with the simple sliders. There's never any blurry text or fuzzy fonts - your books' words are always crystal clear and always easy on the eye.
Navigate your books or newspapers by skipping directly to specific pages or headings. Search your book for words or phrases. Add text bookmarks or record your own audio bookmarks and return to them with ease.
EasyReader is fully optimized for use with iOS VoiceOver and iOS supported Braille displays.
Current Version: 1.5 (December 20, 2017)
Changes in Version 1.5
- Bookshare & RNIB Bookshare organisation accounts are now available for teacher use.
- Importing zipped DAISY, EPUB and TXT files from external sources into the EasyReader app.
- Translation updates for Italian, Polish, German, Turkish and Dutch.
- TTS speed slider now increases or decreases in increments of 5% (previously 10%).
- Newspaper options for unsubscribe and logout.
- New Nuance Vocalizer Embedded v3 voices.
- Preview the voices on the web site.
- Bug fixes and stability improvements.
Seeing AI (iOS, Free)
Seeing AI is a free app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the blind and low vision community, this ongoing research project harnesses the power of AI to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text and objects.
Optimized for use with VoiceOver, the app enables you to recognize:
- Short Text - Speaks text as soon as it appears in front of the camera.
- Documents - Provides audio guidance to capture a printed page, and recognizes the text, along with its original formatting.
- Products - Scans barcodes, using audio beeps to guide you; hear the name, and package information when available. (works with iPhone 6 and later)
- People - Saves people’s faces so you can recognize them, and get an estimate of their age, gender, and emotions.
- Scenes (early preview) - Hear an overall description of the scene captured.
- Currency - Recognizes currency notes.
- Color - Identifies color.
- Handwriting - Reads handwritten text.
- Light - Generates an audible tone corresponding to the brightness in the surroundings.
- Images in other apps - Just tap “Share” and “Recognize with Seeing AI” to describe images from Mail, Photos, Twitter, and more.
Seeing AI is built to help you achieve more by leveraging the power of the cloud and artificial intelligence. As the research progresses, more channels may be added.
Current Version: 2.0.1 (December 22, 2017)
Changes in Version 2.0
- Seeing AI is now available in 35 countries, including the European Union.
- There are four new channels:
- Currency: Recognize US and Canadian dollars, British Pounds, and Euros.
- Color: Recognize the color of objects.
- Light: Detect how much light is in the environment.
- Handwriting: Recognize handwritten text.
- You can now have the document read aloud, even if not using VoiceOver. The text will be highlighted and zoomed so you can track what is being spoken.
- You can also change the size of text in the document.
- On the Person channel, you can now use the front-facing camera to take a selfie.
- You can now select the voice, and adjust the speed of speech, even if not using VoiceOver.
- In the previous version, we added a 3D shortcut menu; you can now choose which channels appear in that list.
- When a new version is released, you will be shown the list of new features when you next launch the app.
Seeing Eye GPS (iOS, Free Trial Then Requires Subscription)
The Seeing Eye, the pioneer in guide dogs, and Sendero Group, the pioneers of accessible GPS, have teamed up to create The Seeing Eye GPS™. Almost 20 years of user feedback and feature requests are behind the design of all Sendero GPS products. The accessible features in The Seeing Eye GPS™ are only the beginning of what is yet to come as users help in evolving this first fully accessible GPS product for the iPhone. The Seeing Eye GPS™ is a fully accessible turn-by-turn GPS iPhone app with all the normal navigation features plus features unique to blind users.
Unique to The Seeing Eye GPS™
- Instead of multiple layers of menus, the three important navigation elements are on the lower portion of every screen: Route, POIs and Location.
- At intersections, the cross street and its orientation are announced
- Intersections are described (e.g. four-way) with the clock face orientation of the streets.
- There are two choices for POI data (Google Places and Foursquare).
- Directions are configured appropriately for Pedestrian and Vehicle routes, including heads-up announcements for approaching turns, turn now, continue straight and upcoming turns.
- If one wanders off the route, it's automatically recalculated and updated turn information is announced.
- Point your phone in a given direction to hear what is nearby with the LookAround Wand.
- Nearby Points of interest and intersections are automatically announced.
- Ability to run in the background or with the screen locked for iOS 7. If you are running an older version of iOS 6 only the sound effects will play and the phone will vibrate at turns and at your destination but no speech output. Note: Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life.
Current Version: 3.2.3 (December 28, 2017)
Changes in Version 3.2
- New indoo.rs beacon source integration. Now when you select the Beacons button on the POI screen, you will be presented with 2 options, Loud Steps and indoo.rs. Currently the only building offered in this source is the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco, CA. We are working on providing more buildings in the future.
- Updated Boni Loud Steps software to include latest developments, including step-by-step directions at some locations.
- Solved the intersection issues in Spanish language.
- Added Argentina to the list of available maps.
- Added iPhone X compatibility.
Recent News and Views
The AppleVis Community Names the Apps and Developers that were its Golden Apples of 2017
By AppleVis | December 22, 2017
We are pleased to announce the winners of the sixth annual AppleVis Golden Apple Awards.
Since their launch in 2012, the AppleVis Golden Apple Awards have afforded blind and low vision users of Apple products the opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the hard work and dedication which developers have put into making and maintaining great and accessible iOS and macOS applications over the given year.
The AppleVis Golden Apple Winners of 2017
Below are the winners of the 2017 AppleVis Golden Apple Awards, as decided by members of the AppleVis community in a public vote held between 15-21 December 2017:
Best iOS App: Weather Gods
This weather app for iOS takes a unique approach to presenting weather information, and VoiceOver accessibility is a major consideration of the app's design with its developer engaging proactively with blind users to seek feedback and suggestions on how to enhance the user experience..
Cyber Grandmas—Using iPhones to Make Blind Life Easier
By Paul Martz | December 13, 2017
When I’m not listening to punk rock, helping my dad set the thermostat, or reading audiobooks, I do occasionally make an attempt to contribute to society. I talk at local blind support groups about using technology.
Most of the groups I visit are at retirement communities, and many attendees are seniors with very limited technical knowledge. It’s a simple fact that most people over 70 missed out on the computer revolution. Seniors with a recent diagnosis of macular degeneration or some other late-onset vision disorder face a real challenge in learning adaptive technology. Many are struggling to adapt to blindness. In my talks, I hope to give them some sense of how a smartphone can help them live independently.
I’m not saying that these senior citizens are completely tech-ignorant—far from it. Let me tell you about my visit to Senior Meadows Retirement Home.
Never Take the Default Route
To get to Silver Meadows, I used the Moovit app to find a bus route arriving in time for the meeting. After the bus let me off, I told SIRI to open BlindSquare, and used it to obtain turn-by-turn walking directions from Google Maps.
I entered Silver Meadows with a confident swagger, already congratulating myself for independently finding my destination, thanks in no small part to my exemplary use of navigational technology and my highly refined orientation and mobility skills. Wow! What an accomplished blind person I am!
Once inside the building, a helpful staff member directed me to the meeting room. As I navigated around some chairs and an oxygen tank, I introduced myself to the support group, Betsy, Emma, and Annie. All three were in their mid-80s. Betsy and Emma both had macular degeneration, and Annie had diabetic retinopathy.
With a smug grin on my face, I used my iPhone like a talking clock. I hit the home button and listened to VoiceOver announce the time. I apologized to the group for cutting it so close and explained the bus had let me off a half-mile away and it took me longer than expected to walk from there.
Apple Releases iOS 11.2; Bringing Many Fixes for Braille and VoiceOver Users
By AppleVis | December 2, 2017
Apple has today released iOS 11.2, which brings a number of fixes; enhancements; and changes for blind and low vision users.
This release appears to have been rushed out by Apple to address a rather nasty bug related to some notifications generated after 12:15 a.m. local time on December 2 causing devices to enter a soft reset loop. AppleInsider has more on this bug.
- When using a braille display or braille keyboard for text input, the translator now recognizes all characters if you type quickly.
- Braille focus and jumping issues appear to be resolved.
- The Braille Screen Input cursor is now placed in the correct location in text views.
- Braille focus will now follow finger when touching in iBooks.
- Siri voices will no longer be deleted when downloaded for VoiceOver usage.
- There is once again a sound effect played when using the volume up/down buttons to change the volume level.
Yo, Human! Mac Scripting, “Hello World”: Accessing Life with Adaptive Technology
By Nicholas | December 1, 2017
Once You gaze into the System, the System also gazes into You! :-)
Fair warning! Any programming and scripting adventures can at first, be; very frustrating, extremely rewarding, can sink you into the depths of a learning curve for a long period of time, expand one's thinking patterns far beyond normal, cause one to pull one's hair out, cause one to become much faster and productive on their computer, can at times force one to restart their system frequently, and quite possibly be the most amazing and fun thing you have ever done. Enter at your own risk, for once the journey has begun the "you" you have always known may never return.
Disclaimer: Apple, AppleVis and Nicholas are not responsible for anything you may do to, with or for, your computer. If you enter the world of scripting or programming, whatever you create you own completely yourself, failures or successes. Such is the fate of any developer, regardless of the platform or experience . Having a back up of your important stuff is a very good idea.
That is not to say that it is overly dangerous, or that there is no help out there, many resources exist that can assist on your journey. I will include any links I can find near the bottom of this post. I can say, in the twenty-five years that I have dabbled with AppleScript, I have never had to reinstall any software because of my scripting. Admittedly, I am more of an advanced dabbler, but I am certainly no expert. I have personally enjoyed the easier scripts that help automate my systems. I am perfectly happy staying at that level. Dabbling with easy AppleScripts has expanded my thought patterns and taught me much about Mac OS and my computer that I might never have learned otherwise. It has been and continues to be, one of the most frustrating, gratifying and amazing adventures I have ever embarked upon. Really!
Now that I have completely scared the pants off you, put something comfortable on, grab some coffee or tea and lets get started.
This Month in Podcasts
AppleVis Extra 53: 2017 in Review
In this podcast, Alex Hall, Tyler Stephen, Scott Davert, and Dave Nason recap the highlights of 2017 in the Apple ecosystem and beyond.
Harness the Visual World with Seeing AI
In this podcast, Thomas Domville introduces us to Seeing AI, a free iOS app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the blind and low vision community, this ongoing research project harnesses the power of AI to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text and objects.
Optimized for use with VoiceOver, the app enables you to recognize: Short Text - Speaks text as soon as it appears in front of the camera, Documents - Provides audio guidance to capture a printed page, and recognizes the text, along with its original formatting, Products - Scans barcodes, using audio beeps to guide you; hear the name, and package information when available. (works with iPhone 6 and later), People - Saves people’s faces so you can recognize them, and get an estimate of their age, gender, and emotions, Scenes (early preview) - Hear an overall description of the scene captured, Currency - Recognizes currency notes, Color - Identifies color, Handwriting - Reads handwritten text, Light - Generates an audible tone corresponding to the brightness in the surroundings, and Images in other apps - Just tap “Share” and “Recognize with Seeing AI” to describe images from Mail, Photos, Twitter, and more.
Challenge Your Reflexes with Zany Touch for iOS
In this podcast, Thomas Domville gives us a walk-through and demonstration of Zany Touch, a Bop-It Style game for iOS.!”
The game tests your reflexes against faster and faster challenges. Listen for the instruction and do it as fast as you can -- touch, swipe up, swipe down, swipe left, swipe right, shake, pinch, and two finger touch.
- Three difficulty settings: Easy, Medium, and Hard.
- Easy level uses three gestures. Medium level uses five. Hard level uses all eight.
- Tracks high scores and previous scores for each difficulty setting on the device.
- Post scores to Twitter and Facebook.
- Post scores and check your rankings with Apple Game Center leaderboards and achievements.
- Fully integrated with Voice Over to make this a great game for the blind and visually impaired.
Are you more clever than the clue? Find out with this demo of Clever Clues for iOS
In this podcast, Abby introduces us to Clever Clues, a free iOS app that is an addictive quiz game that challenges your knowledge and vocabulary. It’s like the saucy love child of a crossword and a word search.
Great exercise for keeping your brain active. The perfect antidote for boredom while on the train, plane, bus, car, tram, boat, sidecar or covered wagon. Easy to pick up while wasting time on your lunch break. Delicious with either coffee or tea breaks. Cuddly in bed on a wintery morning. Have 5 minutes to spare? Open Clever Clues for a quick fix!
If you love word games, crosswords, quizzes, word searches, anagrams or proving how clever you are, you'll be hooked on Clever Clues.
Also from Abby in December:
A Pyramid Puzzle To Perplex You - A Demonstration of Blindfold Pyramid Tiles for iOS
In this podcast, Sabrina Fagerheim takes us through one of her favourite games, a challenging tile matching puzzle game from Kid Friendly Software called Blindfold Pyramid Tiles.
A complete list of all podcasts posted to the AppleVis website can be found at www.applevis.com/podcasts