Welcome to the December 2020 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 the best 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
Fitness Coach by JumpyCat (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Get motivated by creating your unique personalized workout!
Never waste time searching for the perfect workout anymore - let our AI Coach design the workout for you!
Build muscle, lose weight, and feel happy. Get thousands free personalized video workouts: cardio, HIIT, yoga, endurance, low impact, and more. Featuring professional-quality Audio Coaching by our Artificial Intelligence Fitness Coach.
Current Version: 1.0.7 (October 24, 2020)
Perceptron - An Idle Game (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Perceptron is a new incremental game which is based around the idea of building and training a neural network. The concepts behind a neural network have been distilled to their essence in this idle simulation.
Not to say the game is simple. Sure, it starts simple with only nodes, training, and data, but soon balloons into a complex idle game with prestige and upgrades. Not to mention offline support.
Take on the role of a young undergraduate student as you become quite the idle tycoon. Soon you'll be rivaling even GPT-3.
Perceptron is not just another idle clicker. It was designed around the idea of training a neural network and has taken inspiration from many neural network topics. Who knows, you might even end up learning something.
Current Version: 1.8.1 (December 29, 2020)
Westopia (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
From the creators of FruitPot, comes a new game with much more than just slots.
Westopia starts as a promising old west caravans settlement and your mission is to build farms, stores, the saloon, and various buildings until it becomes a big city.
Each building contains a different slot machine with its own symbols. There are more than fifty slots, many accessory games, and countless hours of fun.
Current Version: 1.201228 (December 29, 2020)
All recent app entries posted to AppleVis can be found at:
Notable App Updates
Castro Podcast Player (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Castro is a beautiful, full-featured podcast player that makes it easy to track and manage lots of podcasts at the same time. Only listen to the episodes you want and easily skip the rest, queue up hours of podcasts at a time and enjoy a seamless listening experience with carplay compatibility, chapter support, trim silence and much, much more!
HOW IT WORKS
- New episodes land in the NEW tab. Read their descriptions, add episodes you like to your QUEUE, and clear the rest.
- Press play to listen to episodes from your QUEUE in order. Queued episodes are downloaded automatically.
- Re-order your QUEUE to plan your next few hours of listening at any time. Browse your LIBRARY to review the back catalogue, quickly access starred shows, and see your listening history.
Subscribing to a podcast is no longer a commitment to listen to every episode. You don’t have to manage a huge list of subscriptions or choose a few shows and miss the rest.
Current Version: 2020.16 (December 20, 2020)
Changes in Version 2020.16
This version of Castro should be much faster and more reliable at resuming playback after interruptions like phone calls, alarms, timers, Siri, etc. I also fixed a bug that could get the play/pause buttons stuck in the wrong state and requiring multiple taps.
NEW WIDGET CONFIGURATION: You can choose between displaying episode summaries or durations and dates in medium and large widgets. Tap and hold on a widget and choose “Edit Widget” (or “Edit Castro” if it’s in a stack) to adjust this setting.
We now have a dedicated Family Plan where 2-6 members of a family can share a Castro Plus subscription among them using Family Sharing on iOS 14 for a small premium over the cost of a regular annual plan.
- Buttons for categories are now read correctly in Discover.
- Unsubscribe is now included as an action on podcast cells in Library.
- On the categories list the percentage match is read out as part of each category instead of as a separate element.
- Podcast summaries are now read out for the highlighted podcast in Discover search results, charts, and curated lists.
- Promoted shows in Inbox and Discover can now be opened and subscribed to.
- Episode summary explicitly mentions if it is downloaded to your device.
- Episode titles are read before podcast names in Inbox and Queue.
- Includes actions to move to next or last in the Queue.
- Adds new actions to quickly move an episode one spot up or down the Queue.
- Inbox tab is now labelled correctly instead of as “New Tab”.
- Podcast name is omitted from episode cell summaries if you’ve explicitly filtered to that podcast in Inbox or navigated to it in Library.
Fixed an issue where private feeds like Dithering would fail to open when using Castro’s URL scheme for opening RSS Feeds.
Dolphin EasyReader (iOS/iPadOS, 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. Open your own DAISY, Epub or text books. 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.
Current Version: 2.13 (December 14, 2020)
Changes in Version 2.13
- New library: Calibre Audio (UK)
- Added support for Dynamic Fonts
- Norwegian translation update
- Various additional fixes and improvements
Seeing AI (iOS/iPadOS, 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. (Requires iOS 11)
- Color - Identifies color.
- Handwriting - Reads handwritten text like in greeting cards
- 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.
- Photo browsing experience - Describes photos on your phone
Current Version: 4.0 (December 23, 2020)
Changes in Version 4.0
- The new World channel, available on devices with a LiDAR scanner running iOS 14, enables you to explore an unfamiliar space in 3D, using spatial audio. When wearing headphones, you will hear objects around you announced from their location in the room. You can also find a particular object by placing an audio beacon on it. We are keen to hear your feedback on this early experiment, and invite you to work with us as we explore this new area together with the community.
- On iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, the haptic proximity sensor enables you to point the LiDAR scanner and feel the distance to things around you
- The main screen has been visually redesigned to improve contrast and widen the camera's field of view
- Improvements to image descriptions on the Scene channel, and when browsing photos on your phone
- Improved text recognition accuracy on the Document channel
- Seeing AI is now available in seven additional languages: Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, and Swedish
- Plus, various bug fixes under the hood
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: 3.0.3 (December 17, 2020)
Changes in Version 3.0
Timecrest 3 continues from Timecrest 2’s thrilling conclusion with Ash standing in front of The Door. Now, Luthor Timecrest has decided to give back our memories that he once erased. Memories of you and Luthor meeting and connecting and becoming friends.
We’ve added over 350,000 words, bringing the interactive story to more than half a million words and multiple endings. Experience a richer and more detailed world, and the answers to many mysteries that have been raised in Timecrest 1 & 2.
- EXPERIENCE AN EPIC STORY with over 500,000 words and multiple endings.
- IMMERSE YOURSELF with 9 new original songs added to the soundtrack.
- EXPLORE the majestic floating platforms of Unity where the Masters Council confers, and get lost in the serene landscapes of the snow-covered Icecades.
- LEARN the secrets of Sol and Scarlet Ignis, whose pasts may hold a clue to what Ash has in store in the future.
Recent News and Views
Unwanted Presents: How Apple could Make Bugs Easier to Live With
By Lysette Chaproniere | December 23, 2020
Much as I love VoiceOver and everything it has done for me, at times, it doesn't quite behave as I'd like it to. Those are the times when I think VoiceOver should be put on Santa's naughty list. Sometimes, it gets distracted, like the time when I was editing a document in pages on my iPad, and VoiceOver kept getting excited about the page thumbnails. Yes, VoiceOver, I'm aware that page thumbnails exist, and I'm sure they're the most awesomely amazing thing ever, but can we please stop jumping to them and stay focused on the document? I'll have to turn them off to remove the temptation. At other times, it has the opposite problem, getting so focused on one page element that it stubbornly refuses to move. It lies to me, telling me there's nothing else on the screen as I flick, but as soon as I start exploring the screen by touch, it suddenly decides to start telling the truth.
Among the gifts apple generously bestow upon us in their software updates each year, a few unwanted presents always creep in. Bugs. Alongside all the new features and added emoji, there's always something VoiceOver doesn't report, or a time when it talks too much, or a place where focus keeps jumping around, or something that's gone wrong with Braille.
What should Apple do about it? Many of you will say they should fix the bugs, do more testing, and pay more attention to accessibility. Thats true, but it's not the only thing they can do. However much testing they do, however much time and effort is spent on accessibility, even if they're making a list and checking it twice, some bugs will still creep in. But there's one thing Apple could do to make the bugs easier to live with: they could make it easy to downgrade to the previous software version, not just for iOS and iPad OS, but for other apps too.
Bose frames Tempo Audio sunglasses aren't Perfect, but are a Worthy 2nd Generation Offering
By Reginald George | December 25, 2020
I love good headphones and clear discrete audio. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a speaker nut! However, I am the last person you would typically expect to pay $250 for good headphones or sunglasses. I am way too cheap! I can hear my younger self saying Reggie; you have completely done lost your damn mind!"
My first pair of Frames was the first generation Alto model from 2019. They died suddenly for no reason, and it took forever to get them replaced under warranty because of the pandemic. They finally did send me a brand new factory sealed pair. Which I promptly turned around and sold on EBay to recover some of my significant investment in the new Tempos.
The first generation frames cost $200, and I felt insulted that they found it necessary to raise the price even higher. But for these Bose Tempo sunglasses I made an exception. Whether you will think its worth it depends on your usage scenario. However, they are so much fun to wear, they provide for good situational awareness, and sound much better to me than any bone conduction alternatives. Here's why.
The AppleVis Community Names Weather Gods and Untold RPG as Its Golden Apples of 2020
By AppleVis | December 14, 2020
We are pleased to announce that the winners of the ninth annual AppleVis Golden Apple Awards are Weather Gods and Untold RPG.
Other Apple News
- Apple Releases iOS 14.3 and iPadOS 14.3; Bringing Accessibility Fixes, Support for Apple Fitness+ and AirPods Max, and More
- Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.1, watchOS 7.2, and tvOS 14.3
- Apple Announces $549 AirPods Max Over-Ear Wireless Headphones
- Apple Launches Redesigned Accessibility Portal and Speaks About Its Efforts to Make Its Products Accessible to Users With Disabilities
This Month in Podcasts
AppleVis Unleashed December 2020: It's a Sleeping Lion
In this month's edition of AppleVis Unleashed, Thomas Domville, Randy Rusnak, and Mike Malarsie discuss recent Apple news and other topics of interest. Topics featured in this podcast include:
- Apple Launches Redesigned Accessibility Site and New Support Videos
- The AppleVis Community Names Weather Gods and Untold RPG as Its Golden Apples of 2020
- Apple Announces $549 AirPods Max Over-Ear Wireless Headphones
- Hear the Difference Between AirPods Max and Its Rivals
- AirPods Max: Unboxing and Thoughts
- iPhone 11 repair program: How to check if your device is eligible
This month's podcasts from Thomas Domville
- AirPods Max: Unboxing and Thoughts
- HomePod mini: Unboxing, Specifications and Thoughts
- HomePod mini: Initial Setup
- HomePod Mini: Using the Intercom
- HomePod mini: Using the Touch Display and Gestures
- HomePod mini: Using Siri
- HomePod mini: Using Handoff and Remote Media Controls
- HomePod mini: How to Reset to Its Factory Settings
Hot AppleVis Content
Here are some of our forum topics which have got people talking in the past month:
- How could Apple make Fitness Plus accessible to the blind?
- Announcing Timecrest 3: Luthor
- Firefox 85 Beta for MacOS contains a preview of VoiceOver support
- New slots game Westopia
- Looking for VoiceOver testers for my text adventure interpreter
- Onslaught, Audio Asteroids, released for macOS, Windows, and Linux
- Does anyone here go caseless?
- Soundings for Weather Gods subscriptions
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We hope that everybody in our community, your families, and loved ones continues to remain safe and healthy in these difficult times, and wish everybody all the best for 2021.
The AppleVis Editorial Team