AppleVis Unlimited: What's New and Noteworthy for October 2017
Welcome to the October 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
Blindfold Millionaire (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Blindfold Millionaire is a fully accessible trivia game inspired by the TV Game Show "Do you want to be a millionaire".
You start the game by picking one of the answers for each question. If you get it right, you win some cash, and move onto the next question. If you are wrong, you lose all the cash you've won so far, and go home broke. You must answer all 15 questions correctly to win one million dollars.
The game includes lifelines such as phoning a friend, asking the audience, or removing half of the wrong answers. You can walk away at any time and keep your winnings.
Current Version: 1.1.5 (October 26, 2017)
BrailleTalk (iOS, Free With US$69.99 In-App Purchase to Unlock Full Version)
Braille Talk is an application that reads out Braille electronic book using synthesized voice incorporated into iOS devices, such as iPhone or iPad.
It deals with various kinds of voices: Since it corresponds to various voice types embedded in iOS, you can select the voice of your choice.
Customize sound settings: You can freely set the speed, pitch and volume of reading.
Check the word during reading loud: One sentence is displayed during reading loud, you can check the detail explanation of the character on the screen.
Move freely reading place: You can move freely to any volume, page, line, heading, pageslider.
Set bookmark: You can place bookmarks on any specific page and jump to reading location where you set the bookmarks.
Word Searching: Enter any character, and you can move to the exact reading position.
Downloading books: You can download books by logging in online library by the Safari, or others, finding the book then downloading through Braille Talk. You also store books in online storage, such as Dropbox.
Current Version: 1.1 (October 10, 2017)
Highlands, Deep Waters (iOS, US$3.99)
While investigating a murder in a small Scottish town, you’ll find yourself embroiled in a world of secrets, cultists, and abyssal horror. What are you willing to do to solve the case? And what will you do when you don’t like the answer?
"Highlands, Deep Waters" is a 340,000 word interactive horror novel by Fernando B Neves and Lucas Zaper, where your choices control the story. It's entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.
- Play as an insightful Detective, a resourceful Criminal or a mysterious Scholar.
- Gather and interpret clues with the Deduction system. Will you solve the case?
- Face the hidden truths that derange your mind with the Sanity system.
- A carefully crafted town including hand-drawn maps, unique history and peculiar inhabitants.
- Play as a male, female, gay or straight. The Abyssal Ones treat everyone just the same.
Current Version: 1.0.1 (October 5, 2017)
Nearby Explorer Online (iOS, Free)
Nearby Explorer Online is a free indoor and outdoor location app designed for use by people who are blind. It works much like the full featured Nearby Explorer app, but it does not include NAVTEQ onboard maps.
The app works by letting you select from several different location related options about what to announce as you move. These include typical items like street name, address, and nearby places as well as the distance and direction to them. (All announcements are optional.) All of this information is shown on the home screen and is available at any time, but typical use is to adjust the level of announcements, then lock the screen and put the device away. This keeps both hands free and lets your preferred voice speak the characteristics of the environment as you move.
You may also use the devices position and orientation to obtain additional targeted details such as pointing the end of the device to scan for points of interest or tilting it vertically to function as a compass. This all works with the device locked, so one need not fuss with the touch screen while moving. You may even mark a point, then use the position of the device to get haptic feedback about that point's location.
Nearby Explorer Online includes a transit feature that provides detailed mass transit schedules for over 60 metropolitan areas in the U. S. and Canada. It treats transit stops just like favorites and points of interest by announcing their name and relative position as you move, but in addition, transit stops add next vehicle stop time, direction of travel, and route name to the announcements. You can use the transit schedules to look up times or even follow a route.
You may virtually move to any area and search, or use the transit maps for that area.
Current Version: 1.14.0 (October 19, 2017)
Speech Central: School Reader (iOS, US$2.99)
This edition of text to speech app is specially crafted for schools to make learning more productive and accessible, helping everyone to find his way to better grades and greater knowledge.
With 11 supported text file formats, you can import any material to be read aloud - supported document types are: PDF* (imported in an intelligent way so that repetitive text in headers and footers is skipped), Microsoft Word (.docx), Microsoft PowerPoint (.pptx), OpenOffice/LibreOffice (.odt, .odp), .html, .txt, .rtf, supported ebook formats are .epub, DAISY and .fb2 and emails in .eml format. All those formats will work only if a document has no DRM (PDF files with passwords can be imported).
The app can also import the content of web pages with a special care to limit this access only to the safe content by receiving only the pages shared from Safari.
The app is tested to be accessible with VoiceOver by legally blind users. It can be used as an assistive technology and helper for people with visual impairments and disabilities like dyslexia (dyslexia friendly font is included in the app), and it contains many settings specially crafted for those purposes. Bookshare, an accessible online library is integrated into the app.
Current Version: 3.3 (October 13, 2017)
All recent app entries posted to AppleVis can be found at:
Notable App Updates
NantMobile Money Reader (iOS, Free)
NantMobile Money Reader instantly recognizes currency and speaks the denomination, enabling people experiencing visual impairments or blindness to quickly and easily identify and count bills. Point the camera of your iOS device at a bill and the application will tell you the denomination in real-time. Twenty one currencies are supported: the US Dollar, Australian Dollar, Bahraini Dinar, Brazilian Real, Belarusian Ruble, British Pound, Canadian Dollar, Euro, Hungarian Forint, Israeli Shekel, Indian Rupee, Japanese Yen, Kuwaiti Dinar, Mexican Peso, New Zealand Dollar, Polish Zloty, Russian Ruble, Saudi Arabian Riyal, Singapore Dollar, and United Arab Emirates Dirham.
Featuring our patented and proprietary recognition technology, the NantMobile Money Reader makes it as easy to recognize bills as possible. There’s no need to hold the iOS device still or capture a photo and wait for a result. Recognition happens instantly--in real-time. The app does not require an internet connection, which means it will read money at any location, and at anytime.
NantMobile Money Reader is a helpful mobile assistant that’s simple and easy to use. While shopping, use the application to verify money while checking out or to ensure you are getting the right amount of change back. It can be used to quickly and easily sort money with independence and confidence. The denomination is also displayed on the iOS device's in high contrast large numerals, for those having sufficient vision to make use of the display.
Current Version: 2.6 (October 2, 2017)
Changes in Version 2.6
Updated the following currencies: Australian Dollar, British Pound, Israeli Shekel, Canadian Dollar, Euro, Kuwaiti Dinar, Mexican Peso, New Zealand Dollar, Polish Zloty, Saudi Riyal, Singapor Dollar
Updated and add additional localizations.
TED (iOS, Free)
Feed your curiosity and expand your world with TED Talks.
Explore more than 2,000 free videos and learn from the world's most remarkable people. Search by any mood or topic, from tech and science to the surprises of your own psychology.
Current Version: 4.1 (October 25, 2017)
Changes in October
- We added 15-second rewind and fast-forward controls to video playback. We don't want you to miss that key point in our next favorite TED talk.
- We show a bit more context when you stream your talks to your Apple TV using AirPlay.
- We now defer to your system settings for showing subtitles. We hope this makes them easier to read for folks that like their text a little bigger than our designers do.
- We made great strides in VoiceOver support in the TED video player. If you're a VoiceOver user, we'd love to hear from you about how we can make it even better in the future. Let us know!
- Our universal link support works again on your iPhone. Have you seen the new TED.com? It looks great.
- We now do a better job at enabling English subtitles on talks that are not natively in English.
- We fixed a few issues where video downloads would never resume after the app was removed from the multitasking switcher.
- We fixed an issue where you couldn't rotate the video player when playing your 'Surprise Me' playlist. That was indeed surprising.
- We added Control Center support for video playback. It's just like our support for audio that we added recently, except for moving pictures!
- There were a few visual glitches that showed up when upgrading the app to iOS 11, so we squashed them.
- When your new iPhone arrives, we're ready for it.
- Our push into accessibility continues with support for the Smart Invert Colors feature introduced in iOS 11.
- We fixed a crash that could occur if the app performed a background content fetch in certain instances.
- We fixed another crash that could occur if you tried to restart a download that already in-progress.
- We cut down the frequency that we can refresh our "Talks In" list on the Featured tab because we care about your battery life and our server bills.
Twitterrific 5 for Twitter (Mac, US$19.99)
Re-imagined from the ground up to be the Mac's most friendly, powerful and modern Twitter client. Twitterrific makes Twitter fun.
A clean, uncluttered timeline featuring just the content you care about. Tweets are presented in chronological order and other people's likes aren't placed in your timeline.
Twitterrific feels right at home on the Mac. Support for Notification Center, Retina displays, built-in sharing, beautiful animations, full-screen mode & more.
Take control of your tweets with multiple timeline windows from the same account or multiple accounts, all organized on your Mac’s desktop.
Navigate the timeline, compose tweets, and even attach image descriptions quickly and easily using Voice Over.
Twitterrific's appearance panel supports themes, lets you customize fonts & type sizes, and even lets you control how media appears in the timeline.
Current Version: 5.1.1 (October 23, 2017)
Changes in Version 5
Twitterrific 5 for macOS is a totally new version of the Twitter client with a modern design that includes a dark theme, visual customization, muffle/mute/timeline syncing to the iOS app, and more.
Here’s the full feature list for Twitterrific 5.0 for macOS:
- Simple to use, easy to understand
- True multi-account/multi-window support
- View mentions, messages, and favorites quickly and easily
- Timeline syncing of reading position across all platforms via iCloud
- System-wide alerts for mentions & direct messages via Notification Center
- Fully accessible via VoiceOver
- Support for Retweet (RT) & Quoted tweets
- Quick access to Emoji when composing new tweets
- Autocompletion of usernames & hashtags while editing tweets
- View Twitter saved searches and lists
- Check out global and local trending topics
- Browse conversation threads between users
- Support for tweet storms & chained tweet threads
- Quickly Delete & Edit your own tweets
- Translate tweets to your native language
- Helpful color-coding of tweet types
- In-app media viewing for images, animated GIFs, Instagram & more
- Share a tweet with actions for email, Messages, Safari Reading List & more
- Muffles & mutes synced from Twitterrific for iOS via iCloud
- Robust in-app media viewer with detachable popovers
- Customize the appearance of media in the timeline or hide it completely
- View user profiles including past tweets, likes & mentions
- Follow and unfollow other users directly from their user profile
- Block and report spammers with a single click
- Theme control (light or dark)
- Font size & type face control
- Robust keyboard control
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.
With 24 hour charts, observed weather, built in moon phase, widget, world clock and much, much more, the Weather Gods is a powerful personal time machine that lets you travel the world and visit the future. Please come join us on this exciting journey as we begin our mission to bring you the finest, most practical, most enjoyable weather app experience ever. We can’t wait to hear what you think!
Current Version: 1.5.2 (October 30, 2017)
Changes in Versions 1.5.0-1.5.2
- NEW: our smart weather conditions are now available in the widget
- NEW: voiceover users now have data for humidity, pressure and dew point via the Air God and timeline
- NEW: custom rotor actions for voiceover users allowing easy switching of day and location
- NEW: wind gust data available for all seven days
- UPDATE: improvements for rain and snow probability displays - you should find more consistency throughout the app
- UPDATE: improvements for the moon god view
- UPDATE: voiceover announces the name of the god when three finger swiping in the timeline
- UPDATE: performance improvements for the weather charts and timeline
- FIX: voiceover swipe order on main screen broken
- FIX: widget didn't display properly in landscape on the iPhone 6+
- FIX: sun rising and sun setting text showing for days other than the current day
- FIX: always using location services for follow me when the app was in the background
- NEW: Sunrise and sunset times in the weather wheel for voiceover users.
- FIX: Follow me not working with iOS11.
- NEW: Voiceover will announce the latitude and longitude coordinates for the current location. This is available on the home button at the bottom of the screen
- NEW: Voiceover will announce how many days away for each moon phase in the moon timeline
- NEW: Add pressure trend for voiceover users to the now screen
- UPDATE: Voiceover no longer announces the temperature unit in the fire god and air god timelines
- UPDATE: Voiceover no longer announces the temperature unit for dewpoint on the now screen
- FIX: Rain and snow values missing from chart after day 2
- FIX: Missing timeline rain and snow values after day 2 for voiceover users
Recent News and Views
Apple Releases iOS 11.1; Bringing a Number of Fixes and Enhancements for Blind and Low vision users
By AppleVis | October 31, 2017
Apple has today released iOS 11.1, which brings a number of fixes; enhancements; and changes for blind and low vision users.
- The VoiceOver Rotor once again consistently defaults to the Actions Menu when on an element that has Actions available.
- You can once again use the Actions Menu to delete conversations from the Messages app.
- Navigating and reading of PDF files is much improved.
- Alternative characters on the onscreen keyboard can once again be accessed when using VoiceOver with Touch Typing mode.
- Using the Actions Menu in the App Switcher to close the last used app should no longer cause your device to crash/respring.
- You can once again use a 1 finger swipe up/down on the “Page x of 3” Control to move between pages on the Lock Screen and Cover Sheet.
- The issue where some Notifications would Include "In 1 Minute" rather than "Now" When First Announced by VoiceOver has been resolved.
- There appears to be some improvement with braille support for Grade 2 input, though letters still get missed within translation if you type quickly.
- The braille cursor now responds more reliably when using Cursor Routing Buttons on a braille display when editing text.
- The display of notifications on the Lock Screen and Cover Sheet appears to be more consistent and reliable (specifically in regard to the ability to access all available notifications, and instances of where notifications would previously spontaneously disappear from the lists).
- There appears to be some improvement in VoiceOver announcing the number of notifications that are on the Lock Screen when waking your device, although this is still not completely consistent or reliable.
Apple Releases Software Updates for the Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV
By AppleVis | October 31, 2017
Along with the release of iOS 11.1, today has also seen the releases of macOS High Sierra 10.13.1, watchOS 4.1 and tvOS 11.1.
According to the macOS 10.13.1 release notes via 9to5mac, this update brings new emoji characters and the following changes:
- Fixes a bug where Bluetooth may be unavailable during Apple Pay transactions
- Improves the reliability of Microsoft Exchange message sync in Mail
- Fixes an issue where Spotlight may not accept keyboard input
Our testing of macOS 10.13.1 suggests that there are no accessibility-related changes, regressions or improvements.
Getting Words on the Touchscreen: Writing on iOS
By Lysette Chaproniere | October 25, 2017
Every writer knows the feeling: you’ve just sat down at the keyboard, ready to write your next masterpiece. Suddenly, your mind goes blank. What seemed like the perfect idea late last night now seems impossible to put into words. Or perhaps you have no ideas at all and you wonder how you’ve ever managed to write anything. Unfortunately, your iOS device can’t write your articles, essays, stories or blog posts for you, but combined with a bluetooth keyboard it can make your writing life a little easier.
The app store offers a range of writing apps, from basic note takers to more complex word processors, each with its own unique feature set. Some, such as Apple Pages and Microsoft Word, allow you to format your text as you write. I prefer to use Markdown, a set of characters for formatting plain text. If you are unfamiliar with Markdown, you can learn more about it by reading the documentation here. The advantage of this method is that you don’t need to worry about selecting the text, finding the formatting controls in your app of choice, and then wondering whether the style has been applied correctly. Instead, once you’ve learned the code, which is easier to learn and use than HTML, you can type in a few characters whenever you need to format some text. You can, of course, use HTML tags if you prefer.
Most iOS text editors support Markdown, and can convert it to formats such as HTML, but I want to highlight two apps in particular. Drafts is one of my most frequently used apps, and I keep it in my dock so I can access it quickly. When launched, it presents you with a blank document or “draft”, so you can start typing as soon as you open it. It works very well as a basic note taker, for those times when you want to write down that idea or bit of information before you forget it, and it’s easy to use for that purpose. But it also has powerful automation features. If you’ve used Workflow, “Actions” in drafts are similar. It doesn’t allow folders or sync with dropbox, but you can set it up to put your text exactly where you want it. If you have a text file in Dropbox that you use as a journal, for example, you can set up an action to append your current text to that file, with the date at the top. It can send your text to multiple places at once, for example, posting to your blog or a social network and making an archive of your post in Dropbox or iCloud.
Five Apple Innovations that Impacted Accessibility
By Paul Martz | October 25, 2017
If you’re like me, there’s no way you can resist reading an article with a title like 5 TECH STANDARDS APPLE MURDERED AND 5 MORE ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK.
I found the five murder victims quite noteworthy. Some seem obvious, like the demise of the floppy disk and CD-ROM. Back in the ‘90s, PC manufacturers were a lot like lemmings that would’ve followed each other over the floppy disk cliff were it not for Apple’s bold leadership in this area. As for the five features on the chopping block, replacing the keyboard with some type of haptic hologram seems a bit far-fetched. But after Face ID I’m a lot less reluctant to dismiss crazy predictions about future Apple tech.
I was glad Apple’s commitment to accessibility wasn’t one of the predicted future murder victims. In general, Apple has a great track record for accessible innovations, though sometimes they can disappoint us. How has Apple impacted accessibility the most? With a nod to the Crixio article, here are my Five Apple Innovations that Impacted Accessibility.
An Overview of Bluetooth Keyboards for Use with iOS
By Aser | October 12, 2017
As the power and versatility of iOS devices sinks in, many users invariably ask veteran iPhone and iPad enthusiasts about Bluetooth keyboards. As someone who's dabbled with Bluetooth keyboards since the addition of external keyboard support hit iOS, I've handled my fair share of these accessories in both my role as an assistive technology instructor and just a tech enthusiast on the internet. Just like with apps and web resources, it's almost impossible to work with or even hear about every example or even every type of Bluetooth keyboard, let alone every model. So we invite you to share your comments on these or other models to help others trying to decide what to buy.
It shouldn't be a surprise that Apple manufactures keyboards designed to complement their computers. In terms of their function and aesthetics, these peripherals hold true to Apple's philosophy of offering the experience they want to provide with premium materials at a luxury price point. Apple's keyboards won't have all the bells and whistles of some other keyboards, nor will they be anywhere near the cheapest option. What they will do is give you the closest experience to typing with a MacBook.
One Gadget to Rule Them All: Why an iPhone Makes Sense as an Assistive Tool for the Blind
By Melinda | October 4, 2017
I was a late adopter of the iPhone technology. I thought I didn't need ANOTHER gadget to keep track of. It wasn't until I heard some friends discussing their iPhones that I realized that an iPhone could replace many of the gadgets I used. Not only did the iPhone cut down on the number of gadgets I needed to carry, but it saved me money too!
I was curious to see exactly how much money the iPhone could save me, so I went window shopping. I looked for the lowest priced gadgets that would provide the same functionality I have on my iPhone. I looked primarily at sites with products geared specifically for the blind and low vision community. While I am aware that other products do exist, the products mentioned in this article are the closest in functionality that I could find. Also, the apps listed are the ones I use. This is not an extensive look at the products available to the blind and visually impaired community, just a look at some gadgets and apps I use on a regular basis.
Another GLook at the GMail App
By Paul Martz | October 2, 2017
My spouse uses Yahoo mail. (Shudder! I know.) Recently she complained that there’s no way to open an attachment when viewing her Yahoo mail in Google Chrome on her Windows 7 laptop. She’s right - Chrome forces you to download an attachment to a temporary location before you can open or print it.
I mention this because there are so many mail client options available to us, but few are satisfactory. I use the native iOS Mail app on my iPad and iPhone, the native OS X Mail app on my MacBook, Outlook 2010 on my Windows 7 laptop, and even the command line mail program on some Linux systems. In the past, I’ve tried Gmail in various web browsers, Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail, various GUI mail clients on Unix, even the xemacs mail interface. I always manage to get my emailing done, but I’m never completely satisfied with any client I’ve tried. Not even the original Gmail iOS app.
I received an interesting targeted spam email recently. It was sent from Google, telling me they noticed I was emailing from iOS but not using their Gmail app. Apparently, outgoing email from my iPad must contain header metadata identifying the email client, and as my emails pass through Google’s outgoing mail server, Google sniffed the metadata and sent me the spam, which invited me to try their newly updated app. I read a couple articles about the new features, then did something I almost never do - I took the advice of a spam email message. I downloaded the app to my aging 2012 iPad 4 and gave it a try.
This Month in Podcasts
Get Reading with the Dolphin EasyReader
In this podcast, Thomas Domville introduces us to Dolphin EasyReader, 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.
Learn to Sing in Tune with SingTrue For iOS
In this podcast, Abby gives us a walk-through and demonstration of SingTrue: Learn to sing in tune, pitch perfect, an iOS app which claims that it can teach anybody to sing in perfect tune. Even if you think you're tone deaf.
SingTrue features over 30 interactive exercises* that help you learn to sing easily, confidently and in perfect tune. By using the iPhone microphone and sophisticated signal processing, the app analyses your singing and provides personal feedback on how you can improve.
If you are already a musician, the app will train your voice and your ears to help you become more confident, more creative, and more musical. In fact, the advanced exercises will help you recognise notes by ear - enabling you to play by ear, write your own music, and improvise freely on your instrument.
The exercises have been designed by experts, in consultation with some of the leading vocal teachers in the world. Building on the success of the RelativePitch ear training app (featured by Apple and used by over 300,000 musicians) and the Tone Deaf Test (4.5-star rated app used by 170,000+ people), SingTrue has been developed to help more people discover their inner voice and naturally become sensational musicians.
SingTrue is a US$0.99 download from the App Store, with additional features available as in-app purchases.
Other podcasts by Abby this month include:
A Walkthrough of the U Version Bible app for iPad
A Quick Walk-through of the Verse-A-Day: Daily Bible Verses App for iPad
Live the life of a hobo with Hobo Simulator for iOS
Create zany fill in the blanks stories with Loony Libs
Manage and View Files on your Computers, NAS, FTP and Cloud Storage with FileBrowser for iOS
In this podcast, Carla gives us an in-depth look at FileBrowser - Access files on remote computers, an iOS app that enables you to manage and view files across a number of locations. These include Windows, Mac and Linux computers; Time Capsule, NAS and WiFi drives. You can also connect to a number of cloud services, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, WebDAV, FTP and SFTP.
FileBrowser is a US$5.99 download from the App Store.
A complete list of all podcasts posted to the AppleVis website can be found at www.applevis.com/podcasts