Feedback welcomed for NewsPlaya - an RSS and Twitter App

App Developer

A big hi to the AppleVis community,

My name is Alex and I am the developer for NewsPlaya (pronounced: News-player) - a talking RSS and Twitter app. I developed the app because I wanted to consume news articles and tweets hands-free, for example whilst I am at the gym and commuting. I am not visually impaired.

The first version was released a month ago and the latest version adds support for VoiceOver. Kudos to the Apple Team for making VoiceOver-integration simple for App developers! My first pass was to add accessibility hints and appropriate labels, however I thought the interface at that point was limited - so I introduced a separate view that kicks in if NewsPlaya detects VoiceOver is enabled. The separate view here feels like the right approach, but I am open to guidance from the community.

Whereas the interactive elements deliver speech using VoiceOver, the actual reading of articles is delegated to a familiar Siri-like speech engine. This allows me to rotate the voices, to avoid sounding overly monotonous. In addition to Talking, the app allows you to search through all your feeds and enable notifications on certain keywords, as and when new articles come in. Finally, in an effort to provide more context around news articles - NewsPlaya will extract keywords and link to Wikipedia for a fuller definition.

NewsPlaya also supports Apple Watch and airplay to Apple TV.

If it sounds like something you might be interested in, please do take the time to try it out. I am very open to and appreciative of feedback and want to drive the app in the best possible 'accessible' direction.

The app store link is:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/newsplaya/id987202734?ls=1&mt=8

As a developer, I would also be keen to gather people's thoughts on whether my app fulfils a real need 'better' than some of the mainstream apps which support VoiceOver. For example I guess the go-to apps for RSS would be flipboard, feedly etc. Along with Tweetbot and the Official Twitter app.

Thanks for your time and looking forward to getting to know AppleVis member of the next few months.

Alex

Forum: 

Add feed manually and translate the app

Hi, congrat for the App, I think that its a great idea.

Did you think to allow add feed manually? I can't add any spanish feed.

And Did you think to translate the App to allow use voices in other languages?

Thanks.

Hi Jose,

App Developer

Hi Jose,

Thanks for the very snappy feedback.

Adding feeds manually (or from the clipboard) is top on my list, and will certainly be in the next update - eta 2-3 weeks (given the lengthy app approval process!)

Internationalizing and Localizing NewsPlaya is a larger proposition, so will need more thought.

Cheers
Alex

Feedback

I like this app over othert apps, a lot. I previously used Umano but I like this better I would like to see gestures for controlling the speed of the speech, and skipping to the next article. I would also like to see the name of the article on the screen, and to be able to share the article from the article screen like via mail or Twitter. Thank you so much for this app I also had trouble buying the pro version. When I clicked it did nothing.

Thanks for trying my app out

App Developer

Thanks for trying my app out Pat and glad you like it!

With regards gestures, I assume you mean three-finger swipe - which in this instance could skip to next or go to previous article? And perhaps three-finger vertical swipes could control speech speed. This is where feedback is extremely useful, as naively I thought a double-tap on dedicated previous / next buttons would be more usable than three finger swipe - so thanks again for that.

As well as gestures, I can certainly add your other suggestions, especially the concept of a share sheet for email and twitter. On a side note: you can currenty retweet in NewsPlaya though 'retweet with an embedded reply' is unsupported.

Not being able to upgrade to the Pro Version is definitely a bug, though oddly if you temporarily disable VoiceOver the button works as expected. Not ideal and not accessible - will fix this.

Thanks
Alex

Love the Continuous Reading

Alex,

My favorite RSS news app is Newsify. I cannot find a way to read articles continuously with VoiceOver however. I really like how your app does this. I can now read long articles easily. I wish I could choose one of the voices though. When I used the app, I invariably choose articles with Irish English. I am a sixth generation American with English and German ancestry. Somehow, the Irish speech is hard to listen to for me. I realize conflict between the Irish and the English goes back a long time. The trouble for me though is not political but linguistic. I understand the reason for offering something different from the default VoiceOver voice, but I would appreciate more user control.

What I really like about Newsify is the ability to flick between the headlines of articles and double tapping on the article I want. I use Newsify with Feedler. It works well. As I spend more time, I may have more feedback.

Hi Kelly, thanks for your

App Developer

Hi Kelly, thanks for your comments. I will add an option under settings to disable any of the voices. There are currently five English speaking voices and I completely understand that some of the voices can be harder to linguistically interpret than others.

In terms of flipping quickly between articles what you can already do is double-tap the Search button which will bring up a table containing all your articles.

Thanks
Alex

1.0.5 update is now available

App Developer

Hi, please do update to the latest version of NewsPlaya as it includes a number of stability enhancements and new features. I won't post the details here as I guess the AppleVis editorial team will do that in the main App listing.

As always feedback is welcome.

Cheers
Alex

good attempt, but just for English-speaking sites

Hello,
I appreciate your effort of making this app accessible for visually impaired, but I noticed that, unfortunately, the only sites which can be fluently read are the english speaking ones... you do not use internal iOS speech, as far as I can understand, so, my native italian feeds are pronounced not in proper way and it results as a waste of time rather then a good solution to read, that's why I said this, and I found it's a pity, as soon apple watch will come to me and it was very nice the idea of having your feeds read on your wrist.
I also found a possible bug in it; for example, when you go to "manage feeds", "search by address" and type the direct feed address with all its http and so, there is: first the label "add by address" and then another label "double tap to add this address" and that is the button.
This seems not so usable, the "double tap" stuff must be a hint, not a second button! Otherwise you have double elements on the interface.
the button should say "add address", or whatever the label is, and then the UIAccessibilityHint -or whatever interface element is called in the code- should say "double tap to add address"
Then, I have a note to drop you regarding the 3 fingers scroll up and down; currently it's used to increase/decrease speech rate.
But, vertical scroll with 3 finger, is a voiceover command implemented to scroll page by page a long list of items.
So, for example, on the list of feeds category in "add feed" option, I have no possibility to scroll up and down and must Flick right and left one by one.
I'd suggest you to study the rotor management on accessibility iOS programming guide, to introduce some rotor elements or actions which allow to manage speech parameters, not to affect normal VoiceOver behaviour.
Other thing, what about opening OPML files, and direct sync with Feedly itself?
bye for now

Like the new changes

I especially like the speech rate and the share button. I also like the swipe to next article The three finger swipe for speech rate does conflict with scroll gestures. Could that be changed to a different gesture? Or could you put a table like in contacts for us to scroll by letter? I use this app every morning while I drink coffee.

re: good attempt, for english-speaking

App Developer

Hi Elena,

Thanks for using the app and giving such comprehensive feedback! Actually, NewsPlaya does use the AVSpeechSynthesizer built into iOS, which I believe is the same engine used by VoiceOver. Both incidentally seem to be different from the voices used by Siri (which are quite nice quality, though not available to developers). AVSpeech (which NewsPlaya uses) has access to approximately 50 voices, including Italian. So I think in the short term I can open up the voices offered based on your device;s preferred language code (for example ES vs EN). I can also remove the restriction on Feedly Search that currently only returns English feeds. Hopefully these two changes should address some of your concerns. The third part of the jigsaw would be to completely internationalize the interface, but in all honesty that is some time away.

Completely understand your feedback for the double-tap add button, across the app I have tried to be both logical and consistent in my approach to the UIAccessibility Label and Hint - this is a particularly poor example so will fix that.

Likewise, breaking the ability to scroll through tables was not my intention when introducing three finger swipe up and down. It was supposed to be isolated to just the main view, which does not use a table view. I will remove that functionality and move Speech rate adjustment into a proper place under settings and using a more appropriate slider control.

Finally, OPML and Direct Feedly integration I will look into.

Thanks and kind regards
Alex

re: Like the new changes

App Developer

Hi Pat, thanks for the kind words! As per my reply to Elena above, the three-finger swipe was poor testing on my front. I will be moving that functionality from gesture to a dedicated slider control in the settings screen.

Cheers
Alex

Multi-language now supported

App Developer

Hi Jose and Elena,

If you update to the latest version of NewsPlaya (1.0.6) you can now directly search for non-English Feeds. More importantly, I have opened up all of the voices - so pronunciation should match your current region and language setting. One thing to note is that the interface is still labelled in English, I hope to fully Internationalize some time in the future.

Any feedback you have on these features would be very much appreciated.

Thanks
Alex