Tag - Accessibility
In addition to iOS 9, Apple has updated its iTunes program for OS X to version 12.3 to support the new iOS release, tweak some aspects of the "love" rating, improve iTunes accessibility with VoiceOver, and add support for two-factor authentication for Apple IDs -- along with the usual "improvements to overall stability and performance." While any changes or fixes to the paid Apple Music service or its relationship to iTunes Match are not mentioned, fixes for Up Next and Recently Played are included.
On Thursday night, the American Federation for the Blind (AFB) honored Apple with the Helen Keller Achievement Award for its various technologies that enable blind or low-sighted people to use iOS devices on par with what sighted people can achieve. Specifically, the AFB singled out VoiceOver, Apple's narrative software that describes the on-screen display as users pass over it, as "world-changing" and "transformative" for people with visual disabilities.
Yesterday, Apple posted four new videos to its site and YouTube channel showcasing additional tent-pole features of the Apple Watch, including handling phone calls, interacting with Siri, music playback, and Maps usage. Last week the company had posted a general overview tutorial video, along with shorter ones focusing on Digital Touch, messaging, and customizing the watch face. The videos reveal minor details of the various operations previously not publicized.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a reply to a London Apple Store worker who asked about increased accessibility in the company's latest projects, reportedly said that Apple Environmental Vice President Lisa Jackson has been tasked with helping Apple increase its focus on accessibility. "In every product we do, we want it to be accessible for everyone," Cook said, adding that the Apple Watch will gain some accessibility features over time in addition to the ones it has now.
Music discovery app Pandora has announced an update to its iOS app, featuring a new design and additional components. Pandora allows users to create personalized music stations that play their preferred music. The latest version (v5.7) offers a refreshed design that improves the ease of shaping a station, including a new Personalization icon for quick access to one's history, and being able to "un-thumb" a song previously marked "up" or "down" by re-tapping the Thumb icon.
Upward Spiral Software has released its text-to-speech software, TalkButton, for OS X. Capable of speaking text within Microsoft Word as well as in Pages, Preview, TextEdit, a web browser, and more, TalkButton reads text aloud for those interested in an audio interpretation due to vision impairment, learning disabilities, or multi-tasking. Users can control the speaking voice based on gender, accent and language, and the speech audio can be paused, repeated, accelerated, and recorded via iTunes. In addition, TalkButton can echo keyboard presses, meaning that a user can listen to each character, word or sentence as it is typed to ensure accuracy. Compatible with OS X 10.7 or later, TalkButton is priced at $30 with a free 30-day trial.
Complex mouth-based controller for quadriplegic console gamers, QuadStick, has succeeded in reaching and surpassing its Kickstarter goal of ten thousand dollars. Composed as a single joystick, four sip-and-puff sensors, a lip position sensor and a push switch, the controller outputs to both USB and Bluetooth, and then into gaming hardware. QuadStick will be compatible with PCs, Android devices and PS3s, and with the addition of an adapter, Xbox One and Xbox 360 as well. Controller configuration is available,with pre-arranged setups built in. Users can use its straws to shift between different control methods.
A provider of wireless web access products, Datawind, has announced the release of three new affordable Android tablets and 'phablets' -- the UbiSlate 7Ci, UbiSlate 7C+, and UbiSlate 3G7 -- starting at $38. The UbiSlate devices are powered by a Cortex A8 1GHz processor, theoretically of the same calibre as the original iPad from 2010. Containing 512MB of RAM (twice that of the original iPad), its 4GB flash storage can be supplemented up to 32GB through its microSD card slot.
International communication platform Skype has updated its app for iPhone and iPad, following the recent launch of iOS 7. Version 4.13 showcases a revamped interface, reflecting a similar aesthetic to iOS 7; general bug fixes are also included. Accessibility features have been improved, such as touch-type support for the dialpad, and VoiceOver can now announce the sender's name when messaging, as well as provide improved accuracy during group chatting. Though optimized for iPhone 5, Skype 4.13 is compatible with all devices using iOS 5 or later, and can be downloaded from iTunes for free.
Creators of iOS DJ software Algoriddim have released djay 2 optimized for iOS 7. Featuring a fully-revamped user interface and new music library, users can now add an input track from their mixes directly into other participating audio apps for more creative opportunities using Inter-App Audio. Also included in the latest update, "Artist Packs" consists of a collection of 12 exclusive audio and vocal samples that can be loaded to the integrated drum pad sampler, allowing the user to trigger beats and vocal samples from their favourite artists' live performances. Snoop Dog and DJ Qbert are the first artists to have exclusive sound packs. Similarly, "Skratch Tools" is now an included feature, which is comprised of a collection of Qbert samples that users can use to 'scratch'. Djay 2 is available on the App Store for $2 for iPhone and $10 for iPad.
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Apple brings iTunes Movie Trailers app to Canada
After five years, Apple has expanded its iTunes Movie Trailers app for iOS to Canada. As of Saturday, the free app allows movie buffs to see HD movie trailers for new studio and independent features, and explore some other movie-related extras such as photos, behind-the-scenes footage, or clips from upcoming films. Users can save trailers for quick access, read reviews from RottenTomatoes.com within the app, use AirPlay to send them to an Apple TV, share trailers, and peruse the top movie charts. http://apple.co/1UUKtwr
Apple expands CloudKit API, provides web interface
On Friday, Apple notified developers that it was expanding a feature of CloudKit to allow for server-to-server web service requests. "In addition to providing a web interface for users to access the same data as your app, you can now easily read and write to the CloudKit public database from a server-side process or script with a server-to-server key," Apple said in its announcement. Previously, interaction with the CloudKit public database was limited to apps and web only. http://apple.co/20h1RwP
Remote S for Tesla Apple Watch app drives car out
Developer Allen Wong has created the Remote S for Tesla app, which can be used to remotely activate the Model S electric car via an Apple Watch, and drive it a short distance. Aside from providing data about the car and some basic function controls, the unofficial app uses the manufacturer's Summon command to allow the car to turn on, exit the garage, and park near to the user's location. The app is available to purchase from the App Store for $10. http://apple.co/1PprF4t
Seagate 3TB unreliability suit expands
The Seagate 3TB class-action hard drive lawsuit has been expanded to more devices. The expanded suit, filed today, now includes Seagate's Barracuda 3TB Hard Disk Drive, Desktop HDD 3TB, Backup Plus 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, GoFlex 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, or any other Seagate hard drive with model number ST3000DM001. The law firm, Hagens Berman, is seeking information from consumers such as time in service, purchase price, and the nature of any drive received in return from Seagate as a replacement for a failed unit. http://bit.ly/1Pc34Cq
BlackBerry Canada, Florida hit with layoffs
The BlackBerry campus has reportedly been wracked with layoffs. Sources familiar with the company's Waterloo office staffing claim that close to 35 percent of the local workforce has been laid off, with the deepest cuts being made in the BlackBerry 10 OS and hardware teams. Additionally, the state of Florida has been officially notified that the company's Sunrise facility will see 75 people fired. Enthusiast site Mobilesyrup puts the layoffs at around 1000 total. http://bit.ly/1Pc1Rep
Instagram tests multiple account support for iOS
Instagram is trialling support for multiple accounts in its iPhone app with a small number of users. The Facebook-owned photo sharing service confirmed the reports of the tests to TechCrunch, which will allow a single user to manage more than a single account within the app, transferring between two or three accounts with a few taps. It is unclear when the feature will roll out to the public, but it has previously tested it with the Android version of the app since November. http://tcrn.ch/1SPKEKh
Foxconn CEO declares Sharp deal near done
The Foxconn bid for Sharp is allegedly only waiting on specific details of the deal. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has declared that his company has privileged negotiation rights for the Apple iPhone screen supplier, saying that "we have a consensus, the rest is a process ... I don't see a problem completing this process." Gou hopes the deal, worth up to $5.6 billion, will be formalized by the end of February. http://reut.rs/1SPEQjN