Welcome to the April 2021 edition of AppleVis Unlimited, our monthly series which highlights what's new and noteworthy on the AppleVis website. Below, you'll find a selection of content posted to AppleVis by members of the community - 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
DreamLab (iOS/iPadOS, Free)
Imagine if you could really make a difference and help to speed up time in the fight against Covid-19 and cancer. DreamLab is a multi-award winning app from the Vodafone Foundation, in partnership with Imperial College London, which uses the collective power of mobile phones to fast track Covid-19 and cancer research. DreamLab exists to help find answers quicker and the more people who use DreamLab, the faster it works.
Medical research currently generates huge volumes of health data around the world every day, but access to computing power to crunch and make sense of this data is limited. Your mobile device contains a huge amount of computing power needed to run everything from email to music and video streaming apps, but is mostly dormant while you plug it in to charge overnight. DreamLab harnesses this processing power, of yours and thousands of other mobile phones, to examine such health data to look specifically at how existing drugs can be repurposed to help in the fight against cancer.
DreamLab taps into this invaluable resource to find more effective combinations of drugs that can be tailored to patients to improve treatments and save lives. As a Dreamer you can even choose which project to support and also select how much mobile data the app uses every month (or only on WiFi). Just one PC running 24 hours a day would need 300 years to process the data required to complete the project. However, 100,000 smartphones running DreamLab for six hours a night could fast track the job in just three months.
Current Version: 2.2.7 (March 14, 2021)
Guess the Rule: Logic Puzzles (iOS/iPadOS, US$0.99)
A square next to a circle? A red triangle on the left? One of each color? There’s a secret rule to determine which sequences of 3 colored shapes are allowed and which are not. Using your powers of inductive logic, you must predict whether each new sequence fits. Collect evidence, adjust your predictions, and guess the rule–it’s a lot like the scientific method!
Guess the Rule is easy to learn but difficult to master. Start with simple rules, but if you want to spice things up, try adding “and”, “or”, or “if…then”… You’ll find endless challenges, some of which are absolutely diabolical!
Play alone or with friends! Compete for daily high scores, or see who can guess the rule fastest in a pass-and-play match.
Current Version: 1.1 (April 2, 2021)
Guitar Chord Transposer Simple (iOS/iPadOS, Free)
Guitar Chord Transposer Simple and Manager is a free and easy way to transpose guitar chords. Simply enter your chords and lyric of song & transpose chords! it's like a magic!!! Transpose Guitar Chords and Tabs Instantly - Now you can transpose guitar tablature chords, change guitar tablature keys, and transpose guitar tabs every where any where and play it later OFFLINE!
- Easy Insert Chord and Lyric
- Easy Transpose Chord
- Save to your library
- Play Chord in your library offline
- Easy manage Library
Current Version: 1.0.20201003 (October 3, 2020)
Pro Wrestling Simulator 2021 (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Do you miss playing the role of a General Manager on your PlayStation 2 back in the good old days? Now you can take that experience with you in your pocket- wherever you are in the world.
BOOK DREAM MATCHES: With a variety of roster packs spanning multiple generations of wrestling, there's no limit to the kind of dream matches that you can book in Pro Wrestling Simulator.
POWERED BY ML: We analyzed hundreds of television wrestling matches in order to create an accurate machine learning model that determines how the fans react to the shows that you book.
CLOUD SYNC: Book a show on the train journey home with your iPhone, then pick up right where you left off at home on your iPad. Your game follows you.
Current Version: 2021.5.7 (April 15, 2021)
Roll The Bones (iOS/iPadOS, Free)
Roll the Bones is now a completely free app. By completely free we also mean ad-free and no IAPs!
Roll the Bones is a dice rolling utility with a clean, minimalist design. It lets you choose the number of dice you want to roll, the number of sides on the dice, and a modifier to add or subtract from the total of your roll. Your dice can have anywhere from 2 sides (flipping a coin) to 999 sides (attacking a horde of orcs) and you can add favorite sets of dice for quick access later.
Keep in mind that Roll the Bones is NOT A DICE GAME, but is instead a utility you can use to play games where you roll dice.
Current Version: 1.1.4 (December 6, 2016)
Sonar Islands (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
The new game from the makers of the award winning game FEER.
Sonar Islands is a MULTIPLAYER ONLINE game, where all relevant events happen in your ears.
On various islands you explore and discover, seek hidden TREASURES and conquer OBSTACLES. Every new island has a special atmosphere and a different gameplay. Do your best to fortify your islands and be clever enough to take the gold from your opponents.
- Visit the ancient TEMPLE island, the ancestors built, where snakes are biting and down falling parts may block your way.
- Take a trip to the JUNGLE island, watch abandoned lions on your way, but be aware of the tree traps, set up by the natives. You can go up, but there is no coming down.
- The FUN FAIR island is a happy place to be. You can shoot toys coming towards you. Some carry a treasure, some carry a bomb, that's the risk.
- The VOLCANO island is a chilly place, for some too hot, especially if you step near the lava flows. Ash and stone rain down due to the eruptions of terraforming, raise your shield to protect you.
- In the MACHINE HALL you will meet the friendly robots from Feer, but this time you carry a stun gun to short-circuit their brains, at least for a while, till their self-repair is complete.
- On PING island you will get a sonar device for orientation, send out a tone and the echo tells you, where to go. That’s good, because you may discover, this island is a labyrinth.
- High up on the TREETOP island you have to deal with wind and mosquitos. The wind is really disorientating, leaves are rustling, while the mosquitos chase you. And don't fall, while balancing on the twigs.
- On the ELECTRO island you face the invisible power of ELECTRICITY. Tesla coils sparkle round their high voltage, better shoot some metal confetti to divert the current. The nice thing here are catapult plates, they make you fly all over the island. A pity, that you don’t know where you will end up.
Current Version: 1.0.3 (April 27, 2021)
Widget Pet (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
WidgetPet! Meet your new best friend. Ever wondered what your pet is thinking? Pets might not be able to tell you about all their adventures, but your widget pet can!
- Hop on into the WidgetPet pet shop and pick a companion.
- Incubate and then hatch your widget pet.
- Care for your widget pet and they'll share stories about their day and tell you about their adventures.
- Feed, water, love and even put your widget pet to sleep if they're feeling tired.
- As your widget pet grows they'll unlock new capabilities such as you being able to "pet" them or engaging in playing Pet-Tac-Toe! with other random widget pets live in the app!
Current Version: 4.0.1 (April 3, 2021)
All recent app entries posted to AppleVis can be found at:
Notable App Updates
Microsoft Soundscape (iOS/iPadOS, Free)
Immerse yourself in your surroundings and navigate effortlessly with Soundscape spatial audio.
Microsoft Soundscape will place audio cues and labels in 3D space such that they sound like they are coming from the direction of the points of interest, parks, roads and other features in your surroundings.
Switch between using Soundscape in the real world, or the virtual world, to help you build a picture of a place effortlessly with Street Preview.
Soundscape is designed to live in the background and provide you with effortless ambient awareness. Therefore, feel free to use it in conjunction with other apps such as podcasts, audio books, email and even GPS navigation.
Current Version: 3.4.0 (April 27, 2021)
Changes in Version 3.4.0
Soundscape now supports head tracking with the Apple AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. Place your phone in your pocket or bag and enjoy a hands free Soundscape experience. Your AirPods will track the direction of your head, allowing you to effortlessly hear the audio beacon and callouts in 3D. If you use Apple AirPods Pro or Max, you’ll need to set them up in Soundscape using the Head Tracking Headset menu.
Timecrest (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
In Timecrest, where epic fantasy meets interactive fiction, author Lisa J. Skye introduces you to Ash Elden, where together you both must scramble to solve the puzzle of who unfroze the meteors to destroy Ash’s world of Alyncia. You discover that you have access to a forbidden magic–the ability to turn back time.
Every choice you make matters and will change the outcome of this massive 500,000-word interactive story, leading to one of multiple endings. Immerse yourself within the emotional soundtrack and explore the non-linear maps.
With your new incredible powers, who will you choose to live and let die?
Current Version: 3.1 (April 12, 2021)
Changes in Version 3.1
- VoiceOver: Added an option in Settings to remove Description tags and replaced with a sound effect.
- VoiceOver: Increased default volume for messaging sounds to 100% due to audio ducking in iOS 14. You can still reduce the volume if it is too loud for you.
- Fixed a bug where music would continue for a few extra seconds after backgrounding the app.
- Decrease details length when looking and completed games on small screen sizes
- History now remembers where you were scrolled.
- Numerous spelling and grammar fixes
Tooth Fairy (macOS, US$5.99)
Connect AirPods (or other Bluetooth headphones) to your Mac with a single click or keypress.
AirPods are great, but they don’t work quite as smoothly with Macs as they do iPhones. You can’t tell at a glance whether audio will play from the AirPods or your Mac’s built-in speaker, you have to dig into a Bluetooth submenu to connect, and then you have to go back to the menu to see when the AirPods are ready for use. ToothFairy streamlines this: just click an icon in the menu bar (or press a hotkey) to switch to the AirPods, and the icon always shows whether they’re connected.
- Works with AirPods, as well as any Bluetooth device that you can connect to your Mac: headphones, speakers, headsets, game pad controllers, keyboards, mice, etc. (HomePod is not supported, as it is not a Bluetooth audio device.)
Current Version: 2.7.3 (April 12, 2021)
Changes in Version 2.7.3
- Fixed a regression where the “Global hotkey to connect/disconnect” button didn’t work with VoiceOver.
- Added accessibility names and titles in the Preferences window.
- Worked around an issue with macOS 11 that could cause Bluetooth to time out when connecting a device.
- Improved the “Improve sound quality by disabling audio input from device” and “Why isn’t my device connecting?” sections of the manual.
- Added the “How can I turn off Automatic Device Switching?” section of the manual.
- Modernized code for Xcode 12.4.
Voice Dream Reader (iOS/iPadOS, US$19.99)
Voice Dream Reader is a text-to-speech reader that turns any document and ebook into audio. Featured by Apple as Best New App and App of the Day in 81 countries including the United States and part of App Store Permanent Collections in Education.
- One premium Acapela voice of your choice free with the purchase of the app.
- 36 built-in iOS voices in 27 languages are also available for free.
- 200+ additional premium voices in 30 languages from Acapela, NeoSpeech and Ivona available through in-app purchases.
- Correct pronunciation with your own pronunciation dictionary.
- All voices work offline and play in the background even with the screen locked.
Supported Document Formats
- PDF, Plain text, MS Word, MS PowerPoint, RTF, and Google Docs.
- Web articles.
- Bookshare Books.
- EPUB eBooks. (DRM-free books only. Kindle, iBooks and most commercial eBook platforms are not supported.)
- DAISY text-based books and audiobook.
- Audiobooks in MP3, MP4 or zipped MP3 format.
- Rich text and image support for all documents.
- Scan paper documents with the camera for text-to-speech.
- State-of-the-art A.I. is fast and accurate, even in poor lighting conditions.
- Works entirely on device: No need for internet and your data stays private.
- Only languages using Latin alphabets are currently supported.
Current Version: 4.13.1 (April 16, 2021)
Changes in Version 4.13.0
- Updated to Bookshare V2, which features curated collections, reading lists and assignments.
- Brand new Bookshare user interface that includes sorting, filtering, and improvements for iPads.
- Improved Google Drive, Dropbox, and Evernote access.
- Added context menu for the library. To access context menu, tap the document and hold.
- Added a new font: Atkinson Hyperlegible developed by Braille Institute. The bold version of this font has proved to be highly effective for people with low vision.
Recent News and Views
- Apple Releases iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5; Bringing Accessibility Fixes, Support for AirTag, Privacy Enhancements, and More
- Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.3, watchOS 7.4, and tvOS 14.5; Bringing Accessibility Fixes, Support for AirTag, Enhancements, and More
- Summary of Apple's “Spring Loaded” Product Launch Event
Apple AirTag; Not Perfect, but Close to Being a Must Have for Anybody Who Is Blind or Low Vision and Uses an iPhone 11 or iPhone 12
By David Goodwin | April 30, 2021
After two years of rumour, speculation, and much hype, Apple's AirTag has finally arrived; and my early impressions and experience suggest that it might have been worth the wait if you are blind or low vision - most particularly so for those who use an iPhone 11 or iPhone 12.
For those unfamiliar, AirTag is Apple's new Bluetooth tracker announced at its recent “Spring Loaded” event. It's a button-shaped device intended to be attached to items that you might commonly misplace like keys; wallets; jackets; and backpacks, enabling their location to be tracked in the Find My app. Additionally, an AirTag can be set as lost, and any iPhone user who passes close to it will be alerted to its presence, and can optionally be sent a contact number and message that will help them reunite the lost AirTag with its owner. To further increase the likelihood of people being reunited with lost AirTags, anybody who doesn't have an iPhone but does have an NFC-capable phone is also able to identify a lost AirTag if they find it.
So far, AirTags might be sounding rather dull. One of those things you buy, hoping that you will never actually have to use.
But, before you tune out, let me introduce you to another of the AirTag's features, Precision Finding. This is where things get a little more interesting. Perhaps even quite exciting, for Precision Finding combines augmented reality, sound, and haptic feedback to guide users of iPhones with a U1 chip to the precise location of an AirTag. Oh, and did I mention that Apple has stated that AirTag includes support for the accessibility features built into iOS, such as VoiceOver?
Are you with me here in thinking of how Precision Finding could offer significant added value to somebody who is blind or has low vision?
Are you thinking of those occasions when you misplace something, and one or more of independence; pride; stubbornness; or nobody else being close by results in you spending minutes or more trying to locate your lost item?
Are you thinking of those times when you resort to asking a family member; housemate; friend; work colleague; or nearby stranger to be your eyes and find something for you?
Are you thinking about how nice it might be to instead simply grab your iPhone, and play a quick game of hot or cold - also known as Precision Finding in this case - to be guided towards the exact location of that misplaced item?
These thoughts and the relatively low price of US$29 for a single pack AirTag were enough to pique my interest and have me hit the pre-order button as soon as it became available.
What follows are my early impressions and experience with an AirTag. Read on to discover how despite the operational range of Precision Finding not being as far as I had anticipated and there being a few other disappointments, AirTags are still likely to be a useful addition to the toolbox of gadgets and apps that help to empower me.
CAPTCHA: Telling Computers and Humans Apart
By Paul Martz | April 28, 2021
Computer pioneer Alan Turing’s famous Turing Test quantified a machine’s ability to behave intelligently. In the test, a judge would communicate with a human and computer via a text-based communications medium. The computer would pass the test if the judge couldn’t’’ tell them apart. It sounds like something straight out of Blade Runner, in which Harrison Ford played a detective tracking down rogue androids posing as humans.
The Turing Test has real-world applications. The internet is rife with runaway automated processes, or robots, that continuously attempt to post spam to discussion boards, scrape email addresses, and perform other nefarious acts. If web admins had a way to tell whether a visitor were human or bot, they could eliminate a lot of spam.
CAPTCHA is an acronym: Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Traditionally, CAPTCHA displays an image containing numbers and text, which the user visually reads and enters into a text field. More modern versions ask users to select images based on some criteria, such as “select all images with ladders”. But computers have become pretty good at visual processing. Image-based CAPTCHA isn’t as effective as it once was.
CAPTCHA accessibility issues are obvious to the AppleVis community. Many vision impaired users depend on an audio-based challenge, in which users enter words spoken in a short audio clip. But this is not an option for anyone with a hearing impairment.
The Mac's Messages App Explained
By Tyler | April 19, 2021
If you have an iPhone, you’re probably fairly familiar with the Messages app on iOS, using it to send and receive texts, photos, videos, and other files. As part of Apple’s interconnected ecosystem, this capability is also available on macOS.
An example of how the Messages app could be useful on macOS is if you’re working on your Mac and a text comes in. Rather than stop what you’re doing and switch devices to view and respond to the message, you could simply open the Notification Center or Messages app on your Mac, view and respond to the message, and get back to your original task.
While certain aspects of the Messages app’s interface may initially seem confusing, there are a number of tricks, which I will cover in this guide, which you can use to maximize your efficiency with it. In fact, being able to do tasks like calling and texting seamlessly on both my Mac and my iPhone is one of my favorite cross-device integration features.
This Month in Podcasts
AppleVis Unleashed April 2021
Topics to be featured in this month's episode include:
- Siri adds a pair of new voices and will no longer default to a female voice in iOS 14.5
- Summary of Apple’s “Spring Loaded” Product Launch Event
- New iOS 15 features leaked - including a redesigned Control Center for your iPhone
- Apple Will Not Launch a 5.4-inch iPhone Mini in 2022
- Microsoft buys Siri speech recognition partner Nuance in $19.7B deal
AppleVis Extra 81: Discussing Apple's Spring Loaded Event
In this episode of the AppleVis Extra, Dave Nason, Thomas Domville, and Michael Hansen got together with the community on Clubhouse to discuss everything Apple announced at their Spring Loaded event on Tuesday 20 April 2021.
As well as the usual round table discussion among the team, we were able to bring members of the audience up on stage to give their thoughts too. Huge thanks to everyone who joined us for the recording and to everyone who spoke. Do please let us know in the comments on the website if you like the format.
Perilous Marathon for Mac: Avoid the Pits and Falling Bombs as You Run for Your Life in This Fast Paced Audio Game
In this podcast, Tyler introduces us to Perilous Marathon, a fast-paced audio game for Mac that challenges you to run for your life.
Key features of Perilous Marathon include:
- avoidable pits
- falling bombs
- extendable stats system
- scoreboard system
- Cross-platform functionality, now available for both Windows and Mac OS!
- Constant game updates
This month's podcasts from Thomas Domville
- Learning to Use Apple Podcasts for iOS
- How to Unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch When Wearing a Mask
- What's New in iOS 14.5: New Siri Voices
Hot AppleVis Content
Here are some of our forum topics which have got people talking in the past month:
- What are your opinions on the new Siri voices?
- So, who else has ordered an AirTag for their guide dog? ☺️
- Let's be honest
- SONAR ISLANDS - new game by mentalhome - the makers of feer
- Introducing my new app, GoTalker!
- Introducing Find - an app to find text in real life, like Command+F but for anything printed
- 911 operator developers willing to ad accessibility
- Introducing Navidys and Scandys iOS / macOS; and seeking feedback
- Introducing Perilous Marathon, a new audio game for Mac
- Hell Hunter - Anti-Nomen full version has been released!
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To learn more about Club AppleVis; the perks of membership; and how you can join, please visit www.applevis.com/club-applevis
We wish you all good health and happiness.
The AppleVis Editorial Team