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.
Now AAPL Stock: 93.74 ( -1.09 )
Fiat Chrysler adding Siri Eyes Free
On Friday, automaker Fiat Chrysler issued a software update for selected 2013-2015 model cars to allow Siri Eyes Free, the precursor to the more fully-featured CarPlay, to be compatible with the vehicles' infotainment systems, including steering wheel control. The 2013 through 2015 model Ram 1500/2500/3500, the 2013-2015 Dodge Viper, the 2014-2015 Dodge Durango, the 2014-2015 Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, and the 2015 models of Dodge Challenger and Charger, Jeep Renegade, and Chrysler 200 and 300 can be upgraded through the Unconnect touchscreen, visiting the Uconnect site and entering their 17-digit Vehicle ID, then downloading the update to a USB drive. Installation can take up to 45 minutes, and can only be done while the vehicle is in park. http://bit.ly/23f0sby
Tor Myhren starts as VP of Communications
After an initial announcement in December, Apple on Friday added former Grey Group chief creative officer Tor Myhren to its leadership roster as VP of Marketing Communications, placing the well-known ad exec in charge of Apple's advertising and Internet marketing efforts, as well as having a hand in packaging design. He will report directly to CEO Tim Cook, and is replacing the retired Hiroki Asai, who left Apple after 18 years with the company. Myhren is expected to continue Apple recent push into more "lifestyle" marketing rather than product-centric ads, such as the well-remembered "I'm a Mac" campaign from last decade. http://apple.co/1Wwf0Dd
Marseilles Apple Store to open May 14
Apple has officially announced its newest retail store in France, which is to open in the southern port city of Marseilles in the Les Terrasses du Port shopping center on May 14 at 10AM local time. It will be the 19th full retail store Apple has opened in the country, or 20th if one includes the Apple Watch-only boutique at Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Apple is said to be planning a new showcase Paris store to be located on the Champs-Élysées. http://apple.co/1pP77vO
Maps adds Flyover, Suggestions locations
Apple has updated Maps to include Spotlight Suggestions for Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, allowing users to search both internally and across the web on both Mac and iOS devices for data in Spotlight. In addition, the company has added Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and Akron, Ohio to the 3D Flyover feature, offering computer-enhanced aerial views of the two areas -- and has activated real-time traffic information for Thailand, which will augment services like reminders to incorporate estimated travel times for appointments, as an example. The company recently added Nearby searches to five countries, and rolled out transit directions for Montreal in Canada and Portland, Oregon. http://apple.co/1Lh1Zel
Verizon gives last offer, issues workers ultimatum
Verizon has offered striking workers its "last, best and final offer" following 10 months of protracted negotiations with union leaders. The latest offer comes on the back of 36,000 Verizon employees taking strike action two weeks ago. The proposal includes a 7.5 percent wage rise, better benefits and voluntary retirement incentive offers. The striking workers, mainly on from its fixed line operations, have claimed that Verizon has outsourced 5,000 jobs to workers overseas and that it has been deliberately hiring low-wage, non-union contractors. Verizon recently posted revenue of $32.2 billion for the March quarter. http://cnnmon.ie/26AmwSv
CarPlay comes to Porsche 718 Cayman
Porsche has revealed that its new 718 Cayman series will be the latest vehicles in its range equipped with support for Apple CarPlay. The new Porsche models joins the recently announced 718 Boxster, the 2017 Macans and the 2016 model of the 911 in offering support for Apple's iOS in the car interface. Both are fitted standard with an eight speaker sound system and the Porsche Communications Management (PCM) system. The entry-level Cayman starts at $53,9000, while the faster S variant starts from $66,300. Although already on sale, the won't reach US dealers until late November. http://prn.to/1Tj1EW7
Macphun offers free Photos filters
Image editing software maker Macphun are offering a free set of up to 30 photo filter effects to extend the range of filter options available to users of Apple's Photos app for OS X, which replaced the previous iPhoto program. The first 15 filters are available after installing the software, and includes filters such as "Ancient Canvas" and "Twilight," while users who sign up for the Macphun newsletter will unlock the other 15 effects. The extension integrates directly into Photos, and include sliders for finer control of the effects and a masking brush. http://bit.ly/1VEgQD6