Welcome to the April 2022 edition of AppleVis Unlimited, our monthly summary of 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
Ballyland Stay Still, Squeaky! (iOS/iPadOS, US$2.99)
Who doesn’t like to play with paint and mud without getting dirty?
An accessible audio story and game that are fun for all.
Play with paint and mud without getting dirty!
This iPad app is fun for all, while being specifically designed for young children who are blind or visually impaired. A story that responds to touch with audio feedback, while teaching basic iPad skills through cause and effect. Plus the Bonus Game which helps to build spatial awareness on the screen.
FIRST: Enjoy the adventure of Squeaky, the bouncy ball from Ballyland, who tries really hard to stay clean for a visit to his grandmother. Two simple, ‘informal’ gestures, touch and swipe, enable interaction with the story, resulting in Squeaky getting dirtier and dirtier…
THEN: Play the Bonus Game, directing Squeaky on five routes to collect now familiar types of dirt in a specific order. This is a great way to playfully develop finger drag skills and spatial awareness on the screen. Uses ‘touch and hold’. Note that the grid is only for visual support and is not relevant to the gameplay for children who are blind. Love the sound effects!
Current Version: 1.0.0 (June 16, 2018)
Voice Dream Reader for Desktop (macOS, Requires subscription)
Voice Dream Reader lets you listen to PDF documents, Web articles, and eBooks using text-to-speech. Although it is designed for people with visual impairment, dyslexia, ADHD, and other reading challenges, everyone can benefit. Your documents become audiobooks, so you can read while you walk, exercise or do chores. For productivity-minded people, with some practice, you can read at twice your sight-reading speed. Unlike audiobooks, you can highlight, take notes, and see the words as they’re spoken to improve comprehension and retention.
Voice Dream Reader for iOS is a 2021 Apple Design Award Winner, and it’s been featured by Apple as Best New App and App of the Day in 81 countries. Using the award-winning iOS app as building blocks, we wrote Voice Dream Reader Desktop from ground up as a native macOS app with a completely redesigned user interface. The result is a full-featured, desktop-class application fully optimized for the Mac.
- Manage all your reading material in one place.
- Organize in folders. Search, filter and sort.
- Keep a Reading List so you never run out of things to read.
- Synchronize your library, reading locations, bookmarks and notes across all your Apple devices.
- Your library stays private on your device, or in iCloud Drive if you synchronize. No-one else has access.
- 75 text-to-speech voices in 27 languages.
- All voices are offline to protect your privacy.
- Correct pronunciation with your own pronunciation rules.
- PDF, plain text, and Google Docs.
- Text recognition for scanned PDF.
- Skip repeating headers and footers in PDF.
- Web articles via Safari Extension.
- Bookshare books via built-in interface.
- EPUB eBooks. (DRM-free books only. Kindle, iBooks and most commercial eBook platforms are encrypted.)
- DAISY text-based books and audiobooks.
- Audiobooks in MP3, MP4 or zipped MP3 format.
- Native access for Dropbox and Google Drive.
- Highlight spoken word to improve comprehension and retention.
- Change font, colors, character and line spacing, and margins.
- Auto-scrolling and full screen, distraction-free mode to help with focus.
- Two speed-reading modes: Pac-Man and RSVP.
- Optimized for accessibility including VoiceOver.
- High contrast and large font size for low vision readers.
- Bookmark, highlight and take notes.
- Export highlights and notes.
- Full-text search.
- Built-in dictionary.
Notes for iOS Users
- Only macOS system voices are supported.
- Acapela voices will be available in a future update.
- Ivona and NeoSpeech voices do not run on macOS.
- Word, PowerPoint and RTF support will come in a future update.
- Pocket and Instapaper support is coming soon.
- Evernote does not support third party access on macOS.
Current Version: 1.0.1 (April 30, 2022)
ZenoRadio (iOS/iPadOS, Free)
ZenoRadio allows you to listen to your favorite radio stations from around the world. In an easy to use App, find your favorite radio station by country and listen by streaming or dialing a phone number to save data. With an expanding list of stations and new countries being added weekly, the new ZenoRadio app is the best way to listen to your countries home radio stations.
Current Version: 1.8.0 (March 12, 2022)
All recent app entries posted to AppleVis can be found at:
Notable App Updates
Audio Hijack (macOS, US$64.00)
PROFESSIONAL-GRADE RECORDING AND MORE
Save audio from any website, as well as any application running on your Mac. You can even record all the system audio at once!
Whether you’re recording in-studio with mics and mixers or remote VoIP conversations from services like Skype, Audio Hijack can power your podcast.
Audio Hijack’s abilities aren’t limited to recording. Discover live streaming and internet broadcasting, audio adjustments for both mics and apps, and so much more.
Current Version: 4.0.2 (April 4, 2022)
Changes in Version 4
This is a major version upgrade with far too many changes here, so please read the developer’s release notes for full details.
We would, however, like to draw your attention to the following from the release notes:
VoiceOver users, we’re ready for you! We’ve always worked hard to ensure Audio Hijack is accessible to users with vision impairments, and Audio Hijack 4 is no exception.
BlindSquare (iOS/iPadOS, US$39.99)
BlindSquare is pioneering accessible navigation both indoors and outdoors. Know where you are, know where you’re going, travel with confidence.
BlindSquare is a new solution that combines the latest technology to help the blind with their daily lives. It has been developed in collaboration with blind people and carefully field tested. You need either an iPhone or an iPad to get started. It also supports some additional accessories to enhance the experience.
How does it work?
BlindSquare uses GPS and the compass to locate you. It then gathers information about the surrounding environment from FourSquare. BlindSquare has some unique algorithms to decide what information is the most relevant and then speaks it to you with high quality speech synthesis.
“What’s the most popular café within 200 meters radius? Where is the post office or the library?”
You can control BlindSquare also through voice commands. The Voice Command feature is a premium service requiring purchase of credits for continuous use. Voice Command Credits are available as an in-app purchase on the App Store.
Using BlindSquare as a GPS solution:
When you start the app, it will start telling you the interesting places and street crossings around you. By changing the radius, you can limit the area you are interested in. You can also search by search term or by category. You can select an interesting place from the search results and perform the following tasks:
- Get contact info (address, phone number)
- Open twitter feed or restaurant menu (if provided)
- Make a phone call
- Start tracking the place (BlindSquare will assist you by repeating the distance and the clock face direction)
- Start your favourite navigator for turn-by-turn instructions (TomTom, Navigon or Apple Maps)
BlindSquare is aware of when you travel by car, bus or train and starts to report interesting places in front of you (for example, the next stops) and street crossings when you are passing them.
Current Version: 5.34 (April 12, 2022)
Changes in Version 5.34
- Transportation: Adding Moovit (public transportation guide) integration to Moovit App.
- Turn by Turn navigation: expanding support of third party navigation, adding GoodMaps Outdoors (principally USA and Canada where supported).
- A bug fix, correcting an issue with keyboard while using search.
- Expanded support for Bluetooth hearing aids.
Eldrum: Untold (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Eldrum: Untold (Previously Untold RPG) is an immersive text-based RPG adventure, combining old school CYOA (Choose Your Own Adventure) features with modern twists.
You wake up on a beach - shipwrecked, confused and traumatized. Follow the footprints and you will find a fellow survivor in the wilderness. She is a nomad, who seems to have endured the same traumatic experiences. Together, you embark on a quest for answers and retribution. As you venture through the world to discover the truth in this interactive fiction, you’ll gather equipment and forge your character.
The lands of Tem Khiris are drenched in blood. You must figure out a way to survive in this world of warring states and rival tribes. Proceed with caution, for death lurks around every corner. Poor decisions will soon send you on a one-way trip to the Underworld.
Current Version: 1.4.5 (April 28, 2022)
Changes in Version 1.4.2
We’re changing name! We’re continuing on our journey to deliver high quality RPGs and that means that we need to strengthen our position in order to keep investing time and energy into what we do. Untold was a name that’s difficult for us to trademark, and could be swept away from under our feet at any time. For that reason, we’re switching name to “Eldrum”, which is the name of the world where our stories take place.
What does it mean? A fair question. The name combines two words from the Swedish language: “eld” (fire) and “rum” (room). It’s a suitable name for the dangerous world in which our stories take place. A world of strife and hardship, where nothing ever stays the same.
So there you have it. ELDRUM. It takes some getting used to. We are going to make the transition during the next few months. Expect to see some changes soon.
Numbers (macOS, Free)
Create gorgeous spreadsheets with Numbers for Mac. Get started with one of over 30 Apple-designed templates for your home budget, checklist, invoice, mortgage calculator, and more. Add tables, charts, text, and images anywhere on the free-form canvas. Get instant suggestions and built-in help for the over 250 powerful functions. Animate your data with interactive column, bar, scatter, and bubble charts. Easily filter through large tables. Find patterns and trends using pivot tables.
Current Version: 12.0 (April 7, 2022)
Changes in Version 12.0
- Create formulas and quickly fill cells with autofill using VoiceOver
- Copy a snapshot of table cells without formulas, categories, or hidden values
- Use Shortcuts on macOS Monterey to create or open spreadsheets and add rows to a table
See also: Numbers for iPhone and iPad
Pages (macOS, Free)
Create gorgeous documents in minutes with the Pages for Mac word processor. Start with an Apple-designed template to instantly create gorgeous reports, digital books, resumes, posters, and more. Or use a blank document and create your own design. Easily add images, movies, audio, tables, charts, and shapes. And use comments, change tracking, and highlights to review your work.
Current Version: 12.0 (April 7, 2022)
Changes in Version 12.0
- Read comments and track changes using VoiceOver
- Publish directly to Apple Books with larger file sizes up to 2 GB
- Use Shortcuts on macOS Monterey to create and open documents
See also: Pages for iPhone and iPad
Pro Wrestling Simulator 2022 (iOS/iPadOS, Free)
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.
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.
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.
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: 2022.4 (April 27, 2022)
Changes in Version 2022.4
All Access For All: The All Access subscription has now been phased out, which means custom roster packs are now available for free to everyone!
Spring for Twitter (iOS/iPadOS/Mac, US$9.99)
Introducing Spring 3, a new generation of Twitter client for iPhone, iPad and Mac. Features fast performance, truly native design and a highly customizable user interface.
- Pin your frequently visit pages to the tab bar (for example, a Twitter List, search result list or user homepage)
- Drag tabs into the order you prefer
- Rename your tabs
- Show/hide tab names and button shapes
- Privately set aliases, notes and username colors for other Twitter users
- User Notes list: browse, organize and edit all your notes in one place
- Sync your data across your iPhone, iPad and Mac privately and securely
- Currently support Mute List, User Notes, Reading Positions, Tweet Bookmarks, Drafts and Search History
- Universal Purchase: purchase once, and install on your iPhone, iPad and Mac
- Column View takes full advantage of the big screen on iPad and Mac, shows multiple views at once and allows you to navigate between views fluently and efficiently
- Full Screen mode on iPhone let your timeline content fill the entire screen once you start scrolling
- Tweet Actions customization
- Mute List filters out unwanted tweets and users
- Search tweets on the Timeline
- Adjustable text spacing
- Adjustable and adaptive text sizes
- Two layout styles: Tiled and Card
- Option to display Tweet Source on timeline
- Multiple Windows support on iPad and Mac
- On iPad, you can Drag & Drop to open a tweet/user page/webpage/image/video in a secondary window
- Link Preview preloads web pages linked to tweets on your timeline, analyze and extract key information, and gives you a glimpse about the content on a web page before you ever open it
- Customizable Link Preview experience
- Customizable text translation experience
- Automatic video and GIF playback on the Timeline
- Supports changing app icon on iPhone, iPad and Mac
- Turn on/off content scaling on Mac for extra screen estate or sharper text
- Edit button and toolbar on your personal Following page, which allow you to select multiple following people, then Add to Lists or Unfollow at once
- Show reading progress on Timeline
- Optionally place a Compose Tweet button on the bottom tab bar (Settings > Tab Bar > Compose Button) (iPhone and iPad)
- Settings to export or import your custom settings/preferences
- Open in Spring (Action extension): open Twitter links via Spring. Available on Share sheet when you share text and/or links
- Autocomplete for Tweet Composer
Current Version: 3.1 (April 21, 2022)
Changes in Version 3.0
- Optimizes accessibility experience
- View recent likes, retweets, quote tweets and new followers with the Notifications tab
- Tweet Polls are now viewable on your timelines
- Supports pinned tweet on user profile page
- Adds home screen widgets that show recent tweets
- Supports full keyboard access with keyboard shortcuts
See also: Spring mini for Twitter
Recent News and Views
Powering up accessibly: a review of the Energrid VS820PD
By Scott Davert | April 7, 2022
As I integrate more technology into my daily routine, one of the challenges I face is providing power to all of the equipment. Along with my iPhone and braille display, I frequently carry other things that need to stay charged such as the external microphone used with my hearing aids. This device is essential, maintaining my ability to communicate with companions or the general public in complex settings. Recent unofficial support for connecting some braille displays to iPhones over USB is yet another reason to have external power as the adapter requires more power than the iPhone itself can supply. In an increasingly connected world, many others are also using more hardware such as Bluetooth keyboards and headsets in order to maintain or even increase their independence. Over the years, I’ve tried many external battery packs or “power banks” with varying degrees of success. One issue with most power banks on the market is the flashlights which can be turned on by mistake. As someone with no light perception, this can be problematic if I’m seeking to charge a device only to find the power bank completely drained. Similarly, determining the amount of charge left in the power bank also typically relies on lights on the device. I can use an app to get sighted assistance, fire up a light detector app or consult the nearest sighted person. However, that is not always autonomous, convenient or feasible. When I would only charge one or two different devices on these external battery packs, I could mentally track how much juice I had left to some degree. For example, a 20,000 MAH battery pack would charge my iPhone approximately 6 times from 0%, or up to 8 times if the iPhone’s battery was not fully flat when charged. As the demand for USB power increases and my technology needs continue to evolve, keeping track of this math is becoming a complex task. The Energrid VS820PD power bank seeks to address some of these issues and a few more I’ll discuss below.
This Month in Podcasts
AppleVis Unleashed April 2022: Word of the Month is Graupel
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:
- What you can Expect from the Upcoming Apple iOS 15.5
- How the Upcoming EU Ruling Could Mandate Significant Changes to Apple and Google
- Apple Launches Service Program for ‘Blank Screen Issue’ Affecting Apple Watch Series 6
- Hold On! Could We See More Sports Related News Coming for Apple TV+?
- More Information What We May See in the Upcoming iOS 16
- New Apple Watch Features We’re Expecting Later This Year
- More News on the Upcoming iPhone 14
- What’s in this month AppleVis News
AppleVis Extra #85: Hema Natarajan Discusses the Upcoming Bookshare Reader Suite for Web, Mobile, and Smart Speaker
In this edition of the AppleVis Extra, Thomas Domville and Scott Davert are joined by Hema Natarajan, product manager at Benetech, the parent company of Bookshare.
Bookshare is an ebook library that currently has 1,097,526 titles and is the most extensive collection of accessible ebooks in the world. It includes books for school, career, and reading pleasure, as well as titles in over 34 languages.
Hema, is excited to introduce us to Bookshare’s upcoming suite of free reading tools: Bookshare Reader for Web, Bookshare Reader for iOS, Bookshare Reader for Android, and Bookshare Reader for Alexa. This suite of free tools, available summer 2022, will make reading accessible books easier than ever before.
Bookshare Reader for the Web is currently in private testing in select school districts across the US. Bookshare Reader for the Web and the mobile app will be available to the public in summer 2022.
Bookshare Reader for Smart Speaker is currently in beta release and only available to Bookshare Individual Members. Find it in the Alexa App store.
Further information on Bookshare’s upcoming suite of free reading tools is available at https://blog.bookshare.org/2022/03/benetech-unveils-bookshare-reader-suite/
Hot AppleVis Content
Here are some of our posts which have got people talking in the past month:
- An opportunity to help shape the future of apps for orientation and mobility
- To the Dragon Cave by Kikiriki Games - New blind friendly mobile game
- Does anyone know the split between partially sighted and blind folk on android compared with IOS?
- consistent bugs in iOS 15
- Introducing SS-Mac: a simple app for changing audio outputs on the fly!
- Voice Dream Reader for Mac now officially available
- Personal Power: Getting The Most From iOS as a Totally Blind user
- Anker nano 736: the only charger you really need
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We wish you all good health and happiness.
The AppleVis Editorial Team