Microsoft has today announced that as of January 3, 2023, its Soundscape app will not be available for download and that existing installations will cease to work after the end of June 2023.
The Microsoft Soundscape app for iPhone was launched 6 years ago. It uses 3D audio technology to enhance your awareness of what is around you, and thereby help you get around and explore your surroundings. As you walk, key points of interest and your own saved locations are called out automatically as you pass them. Additionally, Microsoft Soundscape can tell you about your current location, direction, and what's ahead of you. It was inducted in to the AppleVis Hall of Fame in 2019.
In its announcement, Microsoft says that “it is now time to transition the Soundscape research project to the next phase, where we will share it to allow for broader development.” This will be in the form of the Soundscape code becoming available on GitHub as open-source software.
Beginning January 3, 2023, the Soundscape code will be available as open-source software, so that anyone can continue to build on, and find new ways to leverage, this novel feature set for the growing navigation opportunities in today’s world. As Microsoft Research continues to expand into new accessibility innovation areas, we hope the open-source software release of the Soundscape code supports the community in further developing confidence and utility of spatial audio navigation experiences.
Microsoft says that today's announcement heralds “New Horizons” for Microsoft Soundscape “with a community-driven approach. As many blind users have come to rely on Microsoft Soundscape as an important part of their navigation toolbox, we will be keen to discover what opportunities that having the soundscape code available as open source will offer to other developers - whether this is to incorporate Soundscape's functionality into existing tools or to create completely new ones.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts on this news.