Tag - Accessibility
As it does every year, Apple has announced the winners of the 2016 Apple Design Awards for student and professional apps made for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS -- the first year that all four platforms offered awards. An emphasis this year was on apps that were compatible with multiple languages as well as being accessibility-friendly. One student-made app, Dividr, was already available on the iOS App Store, and offers a twist on the rapid-runner scenario by allowing the character to be split into two that can be controlled independently to help pass more blocks and gather more coins. Among the other honorees were creative writing tool Ulysses for Mac (and now iOS), video collaboration app Frame.io for iOS, and music creation app djay Pro for iPad.
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.