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Sounds In The Sofa: Learning To Love My AirPods

Many years ago, my family and I went to the pet store to do a little shopping for my guide dog. My twelve year old son and my wife wandered off into some other part of the store while Fantom, my Golden Retriever guide, and I went on our own little adventure.

As Fantom and I explored the toy aisle, I felt a hand brush against mine and it made me smile. I reached out, took the proffered hand, and kept walking. One of the great joys of being a blind father is that it remains socially acceptable for a son in middle school to still hold hands with his dad.

The two of us walked for a bit and then he slowed to a stop. Still holding my hand, he turned to me and said in an unfamiliar Texas drawl, “Howdy stranger. Why are ya holding my hand?”

I quickly let go. The fellow leaned in close, hot breath in my ear, and whispered, “My favorite animal is a chicken.”

I do not like surprises. Surprises and change make me uncomfortable. Boring is beautiful. I like my coffee without whipped cream or mocha drizzle. I have been quite pleased living in the same house for twenty-two years. I do not embrace change, or strangers in pet stores.

I am happiest with familiarity. I get very attached to my personal technology. Since the 1960s, I have had wired headphones that directly tethered me to my electronics. Initially, my headphones were the size and weight of two large turtles clamped against the sides of my head. Over the years, my headphones shrunk. Heavy metal shells morphed to lighter plastic cups and then to foam cushions. Finally, with the introduction of the original EarPods, I found a really pleasant way to stay connected.

Now, Apple suddenly expects me to think different. Ugh. They want me to cut the cord. Their new AirPods frighten me. They are so small and ready to fall. Gravity is my enemy. My stuff always lands where it is least convenient, accessible, or clean. Even when found, it can be a loss. I would never put something back into my ears that has gone swimming in a toilet. I’m funny that way.

Still, these newfangled AirPods are intriguing. I have often found the wires on my old EarPods to be a pain. Occasionally, while relaxing with some good music, I have forgotten that I laid my iPhone on a table and then felt it yanked off the edge when I stood up. My EarPod wires have also gotten tangled up on my violin and wrapped around my dog’s paws. Most important, I’m told I look really geeky with wires dangling from my head. That is hard news for an old man.

I took a chance. I ordered a pair of AirPods and endured the six week shipping delay. Thankfully, my AirPods arrived a few days early. They looked so tiny. What was I thinking? I have trouble finding my own slippers. The AirPods were so light and comfy in my ears that I immediately forgot that they were even there. Within minutes of the unboxing, I carelessly reached up, dislodging the right AirPod, flinging it into the void. My guts ran cold. If I moved, I might hear a little crunch under my shoe. If I did not, my dog might think I was tossing kibble on the floor. Fortunately, I finally recovered the fugitive AirPod. And, so far, I have found them every time gravity has played me dirty.

I have been impressed with my purchase. Pairing is delightfully simple. The audio quality from my AirPods is really quite good, much better than from my old EarPods. Although the new AirPods have occasionally dropped the wireless connection to my iPhone, I have found the communications quick and easy to reestablish. Battery life is adequate, about five hours per AirPod. The AirPods alert me with a distinctive audible warning when they are down to a ten percent reserve. Charging is quick — just drop them back into their case and give them fifteen minutes for another three hours of juice. More time, more charge. In the last few weeks, they have only gotten out of synch with each other twice, creating an echo chamber that sounded a bit hallucinogenic until I took the AirPods out and then put them back in. Simple and intuitive. Their BlueTooth range is impressive. I can leave my phone in the living room when I go out on the front porch and still listen to a book. In a very short time, I have gotten quite used to them.

Even so, paranoia runs deep in my psyche and I hate the thought of somehow losing one or both of my AirPods. A few days after they had arrived, I performed a sanity check by purchasing an additional wireless product. I walked into the local Apple Store and picked up their BeatsX wireless headphones. Much of the connectivity technology found in the AirPods is also in the BeatsX. However, the BeatsX is a very different animal. The ear pieces are the type you push into the ear canal, rather than hanging from the outer ear. The two ear pieces and associated hardware are connected by a slim and flexible cable that goes around your neck. BeatsX has good battery life, very good audio reproduction, and an up-down-click switch like the one wired to the original EarPods.

The BeatsX are great for plane travel as they loop around your neck and are much less likely to be jostled out in a terminal or dropped on an aircraft. The BeatsX will also dampen the roar of jet engines. Unfortunately, the BeatsX tendency to block much of the ambient noise is a significant drawback for me. I would not want to walk my neighborhood with them in place for fear of not hearing an approaching car. They also make it hard to hear your spouse, seldom a good thing. Even if I did not mind living in a muffled world, I would still find the BeatsX a less than perfect choice. With the soft nylon tips stuffed into my ear, they cause my ear canal to get rather warm after prolonged use. I swear my ear wax begins to melt.

Like gravity, I have a very strong attraction to my Apple AirPods. I am most comfortable with them when working in my office, relaxing in the house, or riding in a car. That is most of my day. Even so, I still keep a set of my trusty old EarPods handy for times when walking outdoors or when lying in bed. My BeatsX are nice, and I’m glad I bought them, but I will probably use them more when I travel by plane or train, when I am in a crowded venue or when I really want to block out the world.

If the cost was lower and I could glue them to my head, I would use AirPods everywhere and all the time. I really do love my AirPods. I’ve even ordered a second pair — just in case.

Although I generally hate surprises, I have been pleasantly surprised by the AirPods. Not all surprises are bad — even at that pet store so many years ago. As I stood there, next to the dog toys, wondering what the heck had just transpired, I heard the fellow who favored chickens begin to laugh. An innocent laugh. That laugh was wonderfully familiar. It was my son, surprised that he had surprised me. Some surprises I love.

***

G. Morgan Watkins spent thirty years at the University of Texas at Austin, most of it in information technology leadership. He also enjoyed thirteen years on the Board of Directors at Guide Dogs for the Blind. After retiring from the University, Morgan served as the Guide Dogs for the Blind Acting President and CEO.

Morgan is now happily retired again, and relaxing after a wonderful six month adventure that culminated in a spectacular wedding in India. Morgan has created 16 other blogs for AppleVis, including “Blind Santa: Audible Books from me to me”, “No News is Good News: Breaking my iPhone news addiction” and “Sleeping With The Stars: Old Time Radio and my iPhone”. Morgan always enjoys your comments and feedback.

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AppleVis Unlimited: What’s New and Noteworthy for March 2017

Welcome to the March 2017 edition of AppleVis Unlimited, our monthly series which aims to highlight what’s new and noteworthy on the AppleVis website. Below, you’ll find a selection of the best content posted to AppleVis – 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

Adblock Mobile — Block ads in apps/browsers (iOS, Free)

Mobile ads drive you mad?

Adblock Mobile removes them all.

  • Blocks ads in most apps and browsers, like Safari or Chrome
  • Works on both Wi-Fi and cellular networks
  • Reduces your mobile data usage, which saves you tons of money

Current Version: 3.2.9 (March 7, 2017)

Read Adblock Mobile’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Adblock Mobile’s App Store page

Blindfold Words From Words (iOS, Free with In-App Purchases)

Blindfold Words From Words is a fully accessible word game for both sighted and visually impaired people, designed for rapid audio play.

You want to create as many words as possible words from the letters of a chosen word. For example, if the chosen word is “blindfold”, you can create the words such as blind, fold, bind, old, find, oil, foil, din, and so on. Words must be at least 3 letters long.

There are thousands of words, and you can play either a timed or untimed game. At the end of the game, you can get a list of all possible words that can be created from the chosen word.

Current Version: 3.2.3 (March25, 2017)

Read Blindfold Words From Words’ AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Blindfold Words From Words’ App Store page

Chess-wise 3 (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)

With Chess-wise 3 you can play chess, analyse games, annotate game notations, play online, solve exercises, watch training videos and much more.

Games are represented as trees, so they can have side-lines. This means when analysing moves, this will not anymore overwrite the moves of the main game

On the new annotation screen, you can add comments and !! – or ?? to the moves

Current Version: : 3.3.8 (March 19, 2017)

Read Chess-wise’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Chess-wise’s App Store page

Crafting Kingdom (iOS, Free)

Every empire starts small!

Build production sites, and start crafting resources. Harvest logs, coal, iron and many other goods. Then craft them into more valuable items and sell them on the market! Complete quests, build your own estate, and become the richest merchant in all of Crafting Kingdom!

Crafting Kingdom is a lovingly crafted (pun intended!) idle crafting game with a huge amount of goods to produce, complex production chains and plenty of quests for you to complete.

  • Buy production sites
  • Build complex production chains
  • Complete quests and get powerful rewards
  • Expand your storage facilities
  • Build you very own estate
  • Endless hours of fun. How much money can you make?

Note to our visually impaired players: This game is fully accessible without the use of VoiceOver. You can enable/disable Accessibility Mode by tapping three times with three fingers in the main menu. Have fun!

Current Version: 1.2 (March 23, 2017)

Read Crafting Kingdom’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Crafting Kingdom’s App Store page
View a very active forum topic where people have shared feedback and suggestions with the developer of this game

Examine Clothes Color (iOS, Free)

This application plays a role as eyes so that visually impaired persons can choose the color and pattern on clothes by themselves.

When you take a picture of clothes with this application, it speaks the color and pattern on clothes. The color included in clothes is expressed by up to 4 colors. The pattern is expressed by a category of 5, vertical stripes, horizontal stripes, checker, plain color and other pattern.

Photographing location is the room where direct sunlight does not gleam. After starting the App, move the iPhone from the clothes to the position of about 40cm, and take a picture. The flash fires automatically.

The Models that can appropriately correct the color are the iPhone4S, 5S, 6, 6S. The App will work with any other iPhone models.

This system has been developed in order to support the independent living of visually impaired persons, and uses a special method of correcting the color in order to correctly recognize the color that changes by lighting environment.

Current Version: 1.21 (May 125, 2016)

Read Examine Clothes Color’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Examine Clothes Color’s App Store page

Life Period Tracker: Period & Ovulation Tracker (iOS, Free with In-App Purchases)

Track your period, predict your fertile days, schedule cycle reminders, track your symptoms, moods, and more! Upgrade to Premium and track your health using any one of nine new health trackers! Track sex, fertility, weight, nutrition, fitness, sleep, medication, health, and even keep a diary! Download the best and most customizable women’s health tracker on the App Store!

We take your privacy very seriously! Unlike many other women’s health apps, we do not require your email address to sign up and we do not sell or share your personal health data. All proceeds come from your support. It’s your Life and it should stay with you!

INNOVATIVE CALENDAR: We weren’t satisfied with the methods other apps used to enter women’s cycle dates. We went through hundreds of prototypes before we were satisfied with the final result.

PERIOD TRACKER: We wanted a display that was simple yet beautiful for the Period Tracker. A page that could be viewed with only a passing glance yet still have it’s own personality.

OVULATION PREDICTIONS: Viewing your ovulation predictions is fast and easy with our ovulation calculator. Gone are the days of information clutter. Enjoy viewing your ovulation predictions at their most beautiful.

MOOD TRACKER: With Life’s innovative multiple entry method, you are free create separate entries for each mood as often as you feel them. And because no mood comes without details, each and every entry also has the option of writing an associated note.

IRREGULAR CYCLE SUPPORT: By default, the app defines cycles as irregular if the cycle has a length less than 21 days or over 36 days however these values are easily personalised to fit your needs within Settings.

MENSTRUAL HISTORY: The menstrual history was visually optimised to include thoughtful choices that take advantage of the available real estate in an easy-to-read vertical orientation.

CYCLE HISTORY: The days of difficult-to-create reminders are over. Our cycle reminders are incredibly easy to create, modify, and set. We give you six various reminders to keep you current with your important cycle days.

SYMPTOM TRACKER: We saved one of the best features for last. Like the Mood Tracker, each symptom can be kept as a separate entry for later analysis or to share with your physician.

Current Version: 4.0.3 (March 30, 2017)

Read Life Period Tracker’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Life Period Tracker’s App Store page

Power 2 for iPhone and Apple Watch (watchOS, US$1.99)

Power 2 enables you to quickly see your iPhone battery life and more from your Apple Watch just by raising your wrist.

Complication: Add Power 2’s complication to your favourite watch face so you can quickly see your iPhone battery life. Power 2’s complication also knows when your phone is in low power mode, charging or fully charged. Its that smart, fast and simple.

Notifications: Power 2 will notify you when your iPhone battery is running low and/or is fully charged, even if your iPhone is charging in the other room.

Time Travel: Have to run out but forgot to charge your iPhone so now you don’t know how long your iPhone battery will last? Time Travel will give you an idea of how long your iPhone battery could last for.

Power 2 is set to automatically check your iPhone battery life once every 30 minutes and will only send you a notification when your iPhone battery is within the following range:

  • Full Charge
  • 95% – 85%
  • 55% – 45%
  • 20% – 10%
  • 9% – 1%

Current Version: 1.0.1 (November 30, 2016)

Read Power 2’s AppleVis Apple Watch App Directory entry for more information
Visit Power 2’s App Store page

The Lost Heir 3: Demon War (iOS, US$4.99)

Defeat the rampaging demon horde, save the Kingdom of Daria, and avenge the death of your parents in the thrilling conclusion to this epic three part series! You’ll need all the power you can muster to finish building your legend, tapping into any of the dozen new prestige classes, including Druid of Decay, Dragon Knight, and even fighting the demons with their own fire by becoming a Demon Master!

“The Lost Heir 3: Demon War” is a 250,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Mike Walter—the conclusion to the trilogy—where your choices control the story. The game is entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

Face betrayal, seek romance, battle enemies in war, and navigate the intrigues of court. The fate of the kingdom of Daria is in your hands.

• Play as male or female, gay or straight.
• Pursue romantic interests, get married, have a child!
• Acquire legendary magical artifacts.
• Reach one of seven different endings! Restore peace and harmony to the Kingdom of Daria or plunge the world into chaos, the choice is yours!

Current Version: 1.0.0 (March 16, 2017)

Read The Lost Heir 3: Demon War’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit The Lost Heir 3: Demon War’s App Store page

Threema (iOS, US$2.99)

Threema is the world’s favorite secure messenger and keeps your data out of the hands of hackers, corporations and governments. Threema can be used completely anonymously, and offers a rich set of features.

HIGHEST ENCRYPTION STRENGTH: Threema encrypts ALL your communications END-TO-END including messages, group chats, media files and even status messages. You can rest assured that only the intended recipient can read your chats, and nobody else – not even us. Threema uses the trusted open source NaCl cryptography library for encryption.

The encryption keys are generated and safely stored on user’s devices to prevent backdoor access or copies.

GUARANTEED PRIVACY: Threema is designed to generate as little data on servers as possible – this is a core part of our concept. Group memberships and contact lists are managed on your device only, and never stored on our servers. Messages are immediately deleted after they have been delivered. Local files are stored encrypted on your mobile phone or tablet. All this effectively prevents the collection and misuse of your personal information, including meta data.

COMPREHENSIVE FEATURES: Threema is not only an encrypted and private messenger but also versatile and feature-rich.

  • write text and send voice messages
  • share videos, pictures and locations
  • send any type of file (pdf, animated gif, mp3, doc, zip, etc.)
  • create groups
  • conduct polls with the unique poll feature
  • choose between a dark and a light theme
  • quickly and silently reply with the unique agree/disagree feature
  • verify the identity of a contact by scanning their personal QR code
  • use Threema as anonymous instant messaging tool
  • synchronize your contacts (optional)

FULL ANONYMITY: Each Threema user receives a random Threema ID for identification. A phone number or email address is not required to use Threema. This unique feature allows you to use Threema completely anonymously – no need to give up private information or to open an account.

TRUSTED CONTACTS: We let users confirm trusted contacts with a QR code or a key fingerprint to prevent man in the middle attacks.

INDEPENDENT COMPANY: We are a 100% independent and self-financed company in the heart of Switzerland with its own servers and in-house software development. Switzerland is a country with some of the most user friendly privacy laws in the world.

Current Version: 2.9.0 (March 28, 2017)

Read Threema’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Threema’s App Store page

All recent app entries posted to AppleVis can be found at:

iOS
Mac
Apple Watch
Apple TV

Notable App Updates

Dropbox (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)

Dropbox is the place for your photos, docs, videos, and other files. Files you keep in Dropbox are safely backed up and you can get to them from all your devices. It’s easy to send large files to anyone, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account.

Features:

  • Access your files on any device, even if you’re offline
  • Create and edit Microsoft Office files from your iPhone or iPad
  • Share links to your largest files without using email attachments

Current Version: 40.2 (March 21, 2017)

Changes in March 2017 Updates
  • You can now sign in to the app with your Google account
  • Improved the sorting options in the Files tab
  • Fixed a crash involving VoiceOver
  • Fixed a crash when previewing certain videos
  • Fixed a sorting issue when viewing offline files
  • Fixed a random crash involving app extensions, like when saving to Dropbox outside of the app

Read Dropbox’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Dropbox’s App Store page

FruitPot: Slots & More – Vegas Casino & Surprises (iOS, Free With In -App Purchases)

FruitPot: Not your typical slot machine. Enjoy the best features of slot machines, puzzles and life simulation games, mixed in the most amusing experience ever! Win MILLIONAIRE JACKPOTS using strategy and luck. You control this slot machine!

All the excitement of slot machines combined with original challenges:

Current Version:1.5.1 (March 28, 2017)

Changes in March
  • Improved explanations of the stores and their items for VoiceOver users.
  • Three new five reels slot machines with huge jackpots (like in Vegas). You will like them!
  • New in App Purchases for the Heroes slots and Heroes Jackpot.
  • Select between double or nothing and memory games when winning three in a row.
  • Now, winning the memory game triples the prize!
  • Look for the store where you won the symbol at the pay table.
  • Several bug fixes, like an automatic spin after hiding symbols on stopwatch that avoid crashes.

Read FruitPot’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit FruitPot’s App Store page

Nebula Game (iOS, US$0.99)

Nebula is a spaceship battle arcade game that will provide you a new experience. With many features such as 3D audio, device movements and accessibility for the visually impaired.

FEATURES:

  • Gaming Modes: Campaign, Free and Multiplayer.
  • 3D audio*, allowing play without vision.
  • 48 enemy spaceships
  • Campaign with storyline
  • Upgradeable spaceship.
  • Detailed tutorials
  • 9 chapters and 36 levels

STORY:

During the last great inter-galactic war, the Spacial Defense Force created the Nebula project, an army of defense and attack composed by 2000 spaceships.

The project got it’s name due to the difficult the pilots had to perform combats in space, as they face huge nebulas that limited their vision and scrambled their systems. Because of this, engineers have invested heavily to develop a technology that would allow us to hear other ships and unknown objects.

Current Version: 1.3 (December 5, 2016)

Changes in Version 1.3
  • Major bug-fixes throughout the game.
  • Upgraded device compatibility.
  • Voice-Over bug-fixes.
  • Full campaign now included in the game, no more in-app purchases!

Read Nebula Game’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Nebula Game’s App Store page

TelevisionTime (iOS, US$2.99 with In-App Purchases)

Television Time is the best TV show tracker for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Easily and effortlessly you can track your favorite TV shows and discover new ones.

Features

  • Beautiful design, easily navigate between shows and episode and find everything you need to know.
  • Trakt.tv sync that just works
  • iCloud sync
  • Notifications to remind you that a show is airing soon
  • Easily view show information via Spotlight
  • See your overall show progress and time spent watching tv
  • Quickly view todays shows with the today extension
  • Export episodes to calendar
  • View cast and crew information
  • 3D Touch, Spotlight indexing, Low Power Mode detection
  • Special episodes support
  • iMessage app

Today Widgets

  • View upcoming episodes
  • View to-watch list

Apple Watch support

  • View upcoming shows quickly
  • watchOS complication support

Current Version: 1.3.6 (March 19, 2017)

Changes in Version 1.3.6

The accessibility of searching for shows has been improved as of version 1.3.6. The Discover feature has also been fixed.

Read TelevisionTime’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit TelevisionTime’s App Store page

Tile – Find & track your lost phone, wallet, keys (iOS, Free)

Welcome to Tile, the world’s largest lost and found. Tile makes tiny Bluetooth trackers and a companion app that allow you to locate lost or misplaced items in seconds — like your phone, keys, and wallet. Compatible with Tile Mate, Tile Slim and Tile Original.

Current Version: 2.10.0 (March 28, 2017)

Changes in Version 2.10.0

Now supports VoiceOver – allowing accessibility for the Tile app to be navigated with ease.

Read Tile’s AppleVis iOS App Directory entry for more information
Visit Tile’s App Store page

Recent News and Views

Apple Releases iOS 10.3; Bringing a Number of VoiceOver Fixes, but also Introducing at Least One New Bug of Note

By AppleVis | March 27, 2017

Apple has today released iOS 10.3 to the public.

At the time of posting, release notes are not yet available; however, this release brings a number of new features to iOS in addition to the usual mix of under-the-hood improvements and fixes.

For blind and low vision users, our testing indicates that Apple has made some progress towards addressing the accessibility bugs present in iOS 10.2.1.

Read More: “Apple Releases iOS 10.3; Bringing a Number of VoiceOver Fixes, but also Introducing at Least One New Bug of Note”

Apple Releases macOS Sierra 10.12.4, watchOS 3.2 and tvOS 10.2

By AppleVis | March 27, 2017

Today has seen another round of software updates from Apple. In addition to the release of iOS 10.3, there have also been updates for the Mac, Apple Watch and fourth-generation Apple TV.

At the time of posting, full release notes for these updates are not yet available; however, it is safe to assume that there will be the standard mix of bug fixes, security patches, and under-the-hood performance improvements.

Read more: “Apple Releases macOS Sierra 10.12.4, watchOS 3.2 and tvOS 10.2”

Summary of Apple’s March 21, 2017 Product Announcements

By AppleVis | March 21, 2017

Today has seen a round of product announcements from Apple, including the launch of a new iPad; a special PRODUCT(RED) iPhone; changes to storage sizes; some new accessories; and a new iOS app.

Read More: “Summary of Apple’s March 21, 2017 Product Announcements”

A Hope for iOS 11: How Apple Could Implement Spellcheck with VoiceOver in iOS

By Brian Giles | March 13, 2017

The influx of new notetakers at the last couple of CSUN conferences is great to see. More choice is always a good thing, as is having fewer, and lighter, devices to cary around to get things done. But what about iOS? Apple positions its iPad Pros as a way to take better notes and a great way to get rid of things on your desk in their latest adds. But there is one feature Apple needs to implement for this to be a viable option for VoiceOver users — an easy way to spell check.

Read More: “A Hope for iOS 11: How Apple Could Implement Spellcheck with VoiceOver in iOS”

Yo, Human! – Knowing the Shortcuts is Key(s): Accessing Life with Adaptive Technology

By Nicholas | March 1, 2017

Brought to you by the letter “Control-Option-A”.

Before my VoiceOver adventures began, I would tutor my clients on the use of standard shortcut keys and how to discover new keys by looking at the menus. The key-combinations are listed to the right of each menu item. Most of the often-used keys involved the use of the Command key on Mac, or the Control key on Windows. On the Mac, hold down Command with your thumb and press “s” and the current document will be saved. Look at the File menu, next to the “Save” menu item is “Command-s.” Simple, right?

Most people can speed up their navigation by using only a dozen or so keys. The most-used keys on Mac and Windows can be activated by pressing their first letter, command-o for open, command-s for save, etc. With a few exceptions. see the list below.

Read More: “Yo, Human! – Knowing the Shortcuts is Key(): Accessing Life with Adaptive Technology”

This Month in Podcasts

A Demonstration of Blindfold Feud

In this podcast, Joseph Weakland provides a brief demonstration of Blindfold Feud, one of many games in the Blindfold Games series.

Listen to “A Demonstration of Blindfold Feud”

A Demonstration and Walk-through of Mine Racer for Mac

In this Walk-through, T Dog gives us a brief demonstration of Mine Racer for Mac available from 2MB Solutions. You can play a free demo of the game, and purchase a fully-functional copy for $5 U.S.

Listen to “A Demonstration and Walk-through of Mine Racer for Mac”

Keep Track of Sunrise and Sunset Times with DayNight for iOS

In this podcast, Thomas Domville gives us a demonstration of DayNight: Daytime & Nighttime Awareness, a free iOS app which notifies users of sunrise and sunset times each day.

Listen to “Keep Track of Sunrise and Sunset Times with DayNight for iOS”

Connect Securely and Privately with the Threema Messaging App for iOS

In this podcast, Thomas Domville introduces us to Threema, a powerful and secure messaging app for iOS.

Key features of the app include:

  • write text and send voice messages
  • share videos, pictures and locations
  • send any type of file (pdf, animated gif, mp3, doc, zip, etc.)
  • create groups
  • conduct polls with the unique poll feature
  • choose between a dark and a light theme
  • quickly and silently reply with the unique agree/disagree feature
  • verify the identity of a contact by scanning their personal QR code
  • use Threema as anonymous instant messaging tool
  • synchronize your contacts (optional)

Listen to “Connect Securely and Privately with the Threema Messaging App for iOS”

A complete list of all podcasts posted to the AppleVis website can be found at http://ift.tt/UjLYDR

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Carbon Copy Cloner

Carbon Copy Cloner by Bombich Software is on sale for 25% off Household licenses from March 31, 2017 to April 3, 2017. You can read its AppleVis directory entry:
http://ift.tt/2ok7Okc

Note that since this is a disk cloning utility that requires more permissions than apps sold through the Mac App Store, it does not have a Mac App Store listing. This is true for any application that operates at this level of enhanced backup. I’ve supplied the web store URL.

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iFax – Send Fax & Receive Faxes (with FREE Trial)

Category: 

Description of App: 

“EXCEPTIONAL” -PCWorld “iFAX IS A TOOL THAT I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!” -J. Brandon, Macworld FEATURES ● PDF and Document Integration – import from mail, upload or download from the web: PDF, TIFF, JPG and other documents supported. ● Unlimited Inbound Faxing – get your own iFax number in the United States (Local or Toll-Free), Canada, UK (Local or Toll-Free), Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Israel & Turkey. Start receiving faxes directly to your iPad and/or iPhone – powered by Apple Push notifications! (Read further for subscription details & pricing) ● Push-Notification & Email Fax confirmations – real-time messages sent to the app with fax notifications and status updates. ● Document Scanner technology – Attach image/pdf from Finder, crop and adjust brightness, sharpness etc to optimize images for faxing. Using these tools to brighten backgrounds and darken text/foregrounds. (Darker photos will not appear clearly in a fax.) ● Professional, customizable cover page template. You can even insert your company logo, add a note and sign your signature on the cover page! ● You can send faxes without getting a fax number. PRIVATE & SECURE Secure & private faxing using HIPAA-compliant, enterprise-grade fax technology. OUTGOING FAX PRICING – BUY CREDITS OR PAY PER FAX iFax is powered by in-app payments. Cost of faxes are determined by the number of pages and destination. You can also purchase credits to fax at heavily discounted prices! INCOMING FAX SUBSCRIPTIONS & PRICING: – NEW! Get a FREE a fax number for up to 7 days before paying. – Pricing for a personal fax number service starts at just $12.99/month for UNLIMITED inbound faxes. – Cost depends on subscription period, location of fax number and toll-free options. All details are available from the INCOMING menu based on the region selected. – Payment will be charged to iTunes Account at confirmation of purchase – Subscription automatically renews unless auto-renew is turned off at least 24-hours before the end of the current period – Account will be charged for renewal within 24-hours prior to the end of the current period, and identify the cost of the renewal – Manage subscriptions or turn off auto-renewal from your Account Settings after purchase – No cancellation of the current subscription is allowed during active subscription period Privacy – http://ift.tt/1shY0mz

Version: 

2.21

Free or Paid: 

Free

Version Of OS X App Was Tested On: 

10.12.4

Accessibility Comments: 

The app is totally not accessible. no buttons are labeled and I left a 1 star review on the app store.

Usability: 

The app is totally inaccessible.

Other Comments: 

I did not contact the developer as of yet but this would have ben a useful piece of kit had it ben fully accessible.

Developer's Twitter Username: 

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Apple Releases macOS Sierra 10.12.4, watchOS 3.2 and tvOS 10.2

Today has seen another round of software updates from Apple. In addition to the release of iOS 10.3, there have also been updates for the Mac, Apple Watch and fourth-generation Apple TV.

At the time of posting, full release notes for these updates are not yet available; however, it is safe to assume that there will be the standard mix of bug fixes, security patches, and under-the-hood performance improvements.

The macOS update brings a Night Shift mode to the Mac; and also includes dictation support for Shanghainese, cricket scores for Siri, improved PDFKit APIs, and iCloud Analytics options.

watchOS 3.2 introduces a new “Theater Mode” which enables you to quickly mute the sound on the Apple Watch and disable Raise to Wake. This release also brings SiriKit to the Apple Watch, allowing you to ask Siri to do things such as send messages, send payments, book a ride, log a workout or make a call.

We have been able to carry out some limited testing of macOS Sierra 10.12.4 prior to today’s public release, and our experience suggests that blind and low vision users are likely to find no accessibility-related changes in this release.

As we always stress, it is impossible for us to test all applications and use cases. So, it is entirely possible that there may be some changes, regressions or improvements that we are unaware of at the time of posting. With this in mind, we would greatly appreciate your help in ensuring that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible. If you spot any accessibility-related changes in any of today’s releases, please do let us know by adding a comment below.

We will update this post if we learn of significant new features or changes in any of these releases.

How to Update

macOS Sierra 10.12.4 is available via the Updates tab in the Mac App Store.

watchOS 3.2 is available by going to the Watch app on your iPhone and navigating to General> Software Update. To install the update, your Watch must be connected to its charger and have at least 50% battery power.

To install tvOS 10.2 on a fourth-generation Apple TV, go to the Settings channel, then look for the System section near the bottom. From here, look for Software Updates under Maintenance, then select Update Software and Download and Install.

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Apple Releases iOS 10.3; Bringing a Number of VoiceOver Fixes, but also Introducing at Least One New Bug of Note

Apple has today released iOS 10.3 to the public.

At the time of posting, release notes are not yet available; however, this release brings a number of new features to iOS in addition to the usual mix of under-the-hood improvements and fixes.

For blind and low vision users, our testing indicates that Apple has made some progress towards addressing the accessibility bugs present in iOS 10.2.1.

As we always stress, it is impossible for us to test all devices, apps, and use cases. Consequently, it is entirely possible that there are changes, regressions or improvements that we are not aware of at the time of posting. With this in mind, we would greatly appreciate your help in ensuring that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible. If you spot any accessibility-related changes in iOS 10.3 that are not already listed here, please do let us know in the comments below.

Accessibility-Related Fixes in iOS 10.3

  • When opening a message in the native Mail app on iPhone, VoiceOver focus is once again placed into the body of the message. (Note: Based on our testing, this does not appear to be the case on iPad.)
  • It is once again possible to move an app out of a folder using the VoiceOver rotor. When moving an app out of a folder, VoiceOver users will find a new Rotor option to close the folder. Once activated, focus is moved out of the folder and the user can then navigate to wherever they wish to place the app.
  • The Space bar on the onscreen keyboard can again be reliably and consistently located by touch.
  • Navigating by Heading in the native News app is now more consistent and reliable.
  • VoiceOver no longer announces “incoming call” when making a call with the native Phone app.
  • VoiceOver now provides feedback when dragging an app from a folder on the Home screen.

New Accessibility-Related Bugs Introduced in iOS 10.3

  • Behavior of Shortcut Menus triggered on app icons by 3D Touch is unreliable. Things appear to work as expected if, after triggering the 3D Touch menu, you keep your finger pressed to the screen and drag to locate a menu item by touch or perform a very distinct swipe gesture to move VoiceOver focus. However, anything else (such as lifting your finger and then trying to locate a menu item by touch) may result in one of the menu items being triggered with no input from you.

Some Other changes of Note in iOS 10.3

Help With Finding Mislaid AirPods

Find My AirPods is a new option available in the “Find My iPhone” app. It keeps track of the last known location where AirPods were connected to an iOS device over Bluetooth, making a mislaid AirPod easier to find. It also allows you to play a sound to locate a lost AirPod. .

iOS Gets a New File System

When installing iOS 10.3, the device’s file system will be updated to use Apple File System (APFS). Announced last year at WWDC, APFS is optimized for Flash/SSD storage and includes features like strong encryption, space sharing, copy-on write metadata, cloning for files and directories, snapshots, and more.

This article from iMore provides information on APFS and what it will mean for you.

And a Few More Changes

  • Settings covering Apple ID, iCloud, iTunes & App Store are now grouped together in a new section in the Settings app.
  • The Settings app now provides a list of your installed apps which Apple say may slow down your iPhone and will not work with future versions of iOS if they are not updated by the developer. This is located at Settings>General>About>Applications.
  • SiriKit has been updated with new features that will let Siri be used to pay bills, check on the status of payments, and schedule future rides from services like Uber.
  • You can now use 3D Touch on the weather icon in the native Maps app to see weather-related details for your current location.
  • The “Diagnostics and Usage” option in the Privacy section of the Settings app has been renamed to “Analytics”. It continues to allow you to decide whether or not to send usage information to Apple to help the company improve its services. There’s also a new “Share iCloud Analytics” option.

How to Update to iOS 10.3

iOS 10.3 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings>General>Software Update) or via iTunes on your Mac or PC. As always, we recommend making a backup of your device before installing any software update.

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Keep Track of Sunrise and Sunset Times with DayNight for iOS

In this podcast, Thomas Domville gives us a demonstration of DayNight: Daytime & Nighttime Awareness, a free iOS app which notifies users of sunrise and sunset times each day.

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Workflow: Powerful Automation Made Simple

Apple has recently acquired the Workflow app and its developer team. As a result, the app is now available for free. Whether it’ll continue receiving regular updates remains to be seen, however considering it’s a very powerful and fully accessible app, it’s definitely worth a look if you want to do more with your iPhone and the price scared you away.

Deal Type: 

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Summary of Apple’s March 21, 2017 Product Announcements

Today has seen a round of product announcements from Apple, including the launch of a new iPad; a special PRODUCT(RED) iPhone; changes to storage sizes; some new accessories; and a new iOS app.

The iPad Air 2 has been discontinued and replaced with a new 9.7-inch iPad equipped with an A9 chip and a brighter Retina display. This new model is simply called “iPad,” and is Apple’s new entry-level model at the 9.7-inch size.

The new iPad includes FaceTime cameras on front and rear; Touch ID; and is available in Apple SIM and cellular models with silver, gold and space gray color options. Prices start at US$329, with online availability beginning Friday, March 24, 2017 and in-store availability starting next week.

Apple has also doubled the storage and reduced the price of the iPad Mini 4. The 128GB iPad Mini 4 with Wi-Fi is now available for US$399, with the 128GB cellular model available for US$529. The 32GB iPad Mini 4, as well as all remaining variants of the iPad Mini 2, appear to have been discontinued.

Apple today also announced a new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus PRODUCT(RED) Special Edition. The new color option is described as a vibrant red aluminum finish in recognition of more than 10 years of partnership between Apple and (RED), which Apple says gives customers a way to contribute to the Global Fund and “bring the world a step closer to an AIDS-free generation.”

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition will be available in 128GB and 256GB models, with prices starting at US$749. Like the new iPad, it will be available to purchase from Friday, March 24, 2017.

In addition to the new PRODUCT(RED) iPhone, Apple has also doubled the storage capacity for the iPhone SE. The device is now available in 32GB and 128GB models, starting at US$399 with availability to purchase beginning Friday, March 24, 2017.

Apple has also announced new colors of its silicone and leather cases for iPhone. The silicone case is now available in azure, camellia, and pebble; while the leather case now comes in taupe, sapphire and berry.

For Apple Watch owners, a number of new bands have been introduced. These include 3 new colors for the Sport band, 6 new colors for the Woven Nylon band, and 3 new options for the Classic Buckle–which also now sports a new buckle design.

Today hasn’t been all about hardware and accessories, as there is also a brand new app from apple called Clips. The app allows you to combine video clips, photos, and music with animated captions and effects into creative videos for sharing on a variety of platforms. Clips will be available in April and will require iOS 10.3.

Lastly, Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app is now available in five new languages: Simplified Chinese, Japanese, French, German, and Latin American Spanish. Swift Playgrounds is an iPad app which teaches users to code using Apple’s Swift programming language. The app includes Apple-developed programming lessons, puzzles, and challenges which teach core coding concepts; built-in templates are also included for users to create their own programs.

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QuickPress – Quick blogging for WordPress

Category: 

Description of App: 

QuickPress is the fastest way to publish posts to your WordPress blog. QuickPress adds an icon in the statusbar so you always have access to publish posts. Supports multiple WordPress blogs, both self hosted and WordPress.org hosted blogs. Note: Quickpress supports only text (not images, links or any other special content). There is also no way to edit old posts, Quickpress is made to quickly post text to your blog. It uses the XML-RPC Api to create posts.

Version: 

1.0

Free or Paid: 

Paid

Version Of OS X App Was Tested On: 

Mac OS Siera 10.12.3

Accessibility Comments: 

This app works wonderfully with VoiceOver. Adding my wordpress sites was a breeze (just select “manage blogs” in the list of options in the pop-up button) and the interface is simple to navigate. for $1.99, I’m very pleased.

Usability: 

The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver and is easy to navigate and use.

Other Comments: 

I’ve been on the hunt for a relatively cheep but usable wordpress editor for mac, and this fits the bill quite nicely.

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