Apple has today said that its accessibility feature VoiceOver is helping more blind people to read than any competing system.
More people in the blind community now use VoiceOver than any other mobile screen-reading software combined.
As an illustration of the power of the technology to assisted blind and partially sighted customers, Apple tells the story of Scott Leason, a blind veteran who regularly surfs off San Diego’s Mission Beach …
The WSJ has an interesting piece looking at how AI and other forms of technology are transforming the lives of blind people.
Microsoft’s Seeing AI app is one particularly dramatic example – able to do things like identify faces, recognize bank notes, read handwriting and so on – but Apple’s tech is also said to be incredibly valuable …
If your iPhone or iPad is talking to you and you notice outlines around different areas of your screen or where you’re tapping, you may have VoiceOver turned on. VoiceOver is an accessibility feature in iOS for users who are blind or have low-vision, however if you haven’t turned it on intentionally, you’ll probably want to turn it off. Follow along for how to return your device back to normal.
At a time when so many Facebook posts comprise a photo and a brief comment, there’s one group of people who get rather left out of the picture: those who are blind and partially sighted. That’s a problem Facebook is fixing, starting from today. The iOS app now uses artificial intelligence to figure out the content of photos, and Apple’s VoiceOver feature to read aloud a description of them.
The Verge got a demo of the feature, which Facebook calls ‘automatic alt text.’
Automatic alt text, which is coming to iOS today and later to Android and the web, recognizes objects in photos using machine learning […] While still in its early stages, the technology can reliably identify concepts in categories including transportation (“car,” “boat,” “airplane”), nature (“snow,” “ocean,” “sunset”), sports (“basketball court”), and food (“sushi”). The technology can also describe people (“baby,” “smiling,” beard”), and identify a selfie.
Facebook said that there were two approaches it could have taken to the problem, and it chose the one it believed would be most successful …
Apple today has added a new featured section to the App Store in which it is highlighting apps that take advantage of the iOS VoiceOver feature. Last month, Apple was recognized by the American Foundation for the Blind for its efforts to accommodate users who suffer from vision loss. A gala is being held this evening in New York City by the American Foundation for the Blind to honor the recipients of the Hellen Keller Achievement Award, which Apple received, and to celebrate, the company has added a new App Store section showing off apps using VoiceOver.
Hearing aids are pretty sophisticated pieces of technology these days, capable of adjusting the sound they pick up to suit a range of different environments, from a noisy restaurant to a windy day outside. A button allows users to cycle between modes, but some go further, an app allowing the user to fine-tune things like the arc of sound captured, letting them hear what is being said by companions while blocking out extraneous sound.
The American Foundation for the Blind today announced four honorees for the upcoming Helen Keller Achievement Awards, highlighting Apple’s VoiceOver and Accessibility efforts alongside actor Charlie Cox, musician Ward Marston, and biopharmaceutical company Vanda Pharmaceuticals.
The foundation says that it gives this award to “accomplished individuals and companies for their success in improving quality of life for people with vision loss either through groundbreaking innovation or inspirational achievement that changes perceptions about what it means to be visually impaired.”
Apple is specifically being awarded for VoiceOver Accessibility technology across its products, per the announcement:
Apple releases new pre-release OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 beta (build 14C94b) w/ focus on WiFi, Mail, & VoiceOver
Apple has released an updated build of the pre-release OS X 10.10.2 software update. The new build, 14C94b, continues to focus on fixes for WiFi, Mail, and VoiceOver. The update is available through the Updates tab of the Mac App Store for users on the pre-release version of OS X Yosemite; as with previous pre-release builds, the update does require a reboot and comes in at 561MB. We’ll check out the new build and update with any notable changes.
Apple has seeded a new build of pre-release OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 highlighting focus ares including WiFi, Mail, and VoiceOver. The third tester preview of OS X 10.10.2 brings the build number up to 14C81f following build 14C78c released earlier this month. We’ll update with any notable changes spotted in the new release for testers.
A week following the previous beta, Apple has seeded a new version of OS X Mavericks 10.9.2 to developers. The update is available via Software Update in the Mac App Store and Apple’s online developer portal. It is labeled as build 13C44, and that’s a small increase over last week’s 13C39 build. Last week’s build brought blocking for iMessage and FaceTime, while the original 10.9.2 beta introduced FaceTime Audio in the Mac’s FaceTime and Messages apps.
Apple has released OS X 10.9.1 for Mac via the Mac App Store today. The update includes a number of Mail related fixes including improved support for Gmail as well as numerous bug fixes. The update also fixes a VoiceOver issue that prevented sentences with emoji characters from being read…
Skype has updated its iPhone app to give a “refreshed look and feel for iOS 7” as well as a number of accessibility improvements and bug fixes.
VideoLAN has released version 2.1 of its popular open source video player, VLC. The update — codenamed “Ricewind” — brings new audio processing to the app, to improve both processing performance and audio fidelity. There is full support for surround sound outputs in addition to new effects and many new supported metadata formats for audio.
On the video side, the app has ported the OpenGL output to OpenGL ES, making ports to iOS and Android much easier. Notably, VideoLAN says that VLC is now ready for Ultra-HD content (otherwise known as 4K). The app update has also focused heavily on improving MKV compatibility, including better seek performance and subtitle metadata support.
Perfect Shot by TapMedia is a new iOS 7 app that is designed to make it very easy to take the perfect pictures of their friends and family. While holding either an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, to take a picture, Perfect Shot detects how many people are in the image. The app monitors and detects everyone’s sets of eyes and their smiles. Once everyone in the group is not blinking and smiling, the app automatically snaps the photo, without the need for the user to press the shutter button.
Perfect Shot also can detect when you (yourself) are in prime position for a photo. The “selfies” I’ve taken of myself with this app are the best I’ve ever taken on an iPhone. They sometimes even look like professional head shots. My eyes are centered and straight, as opposed to being crooked or unfocused because I’m concentrating on the act of trying to take a good shot of myself.
Previously, I discussed how to have your iOS device read text for you in iOS 6, and in iOS 7 it works pretty much the same way – but with some little differences.
As in iOS 6, there are two different ways to make text speakable on an iOS device. But before we do that and discuss how to do it, let’s first set up our iOS device so we can do it:
Music recognition and discovery app Shazam updated its iOS apps today with a couple interesting features, including new “multi-track purchases” allowing users to purchase multiple songs at once through iTunes.
Multi-track purchase: When you’ve tagged a bunch of songs, now it’s easy to go back and buy them in one go. Go to My Tags (or Favorites on iPad), tap “Select & Buy”, pick the songs you want, then tap “Buy” to purchase in iTunes.
Also included in the update its recommendations based on what others users have purchased, music previews for trending songs in the Pulse charts, and improved Voiceover support and sharing.
What’s New in Version 6.2.0
○ Multi-track purchase: When you’ve tagged a bunch of songs, now it’s easy to go back and buy them in one go. Go to My Tags (or Favorites on iPad), tap “Select & Buy”, pick the songs you want, then tap “Buy” to purchase in iTunes.
○ Recommendations: Discover more music based on similar tracks other Shazamers have bought. Shazam any track or find old ones in My Tags, then tap “”Recommendations””.
○ Music Previews: Added loads more previews for tracks you Shazam and trending music in the Pulse charts.
○ Accessibility: Improved Voiceover on iPhone.
○ Sharing is caring: Made it easier to tweet and share on Facebook, or to e-mail music and TV results.
Following Spotify’s update early last month, Amazon has updated its Cloud Player iOS app today with support for Ford’s voice-controlled SYNC AppLink platform that allows users to control supported apps on their smartphones through voice commands and buttons on the steering wheel. The update brings Ford SYNC compatibility to the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as improved VoiceOver support and other enhancements.
The updated app will allow users with access to Ford’s SYNC platform in their vehicles to stream songs, albums, and playlists straight from the cloud or stored on the user’s device.
What’s New in Version 2.1.0
– Now supports Ford Sync on iPhone and iPod touch
– Improved experience when adding songs to a playlist
– Improved VoiceOver support
Amazon updates Kindle iOS app with new accessibility features, VoiceOver support for the visually impaired
Amazon announced today that it is updating its Kindle mobile apps, starting with an update to the Kindle iOS app,to include new accessibility features for the blind and visually impaired. The updated app now includes VoiceOver support and new accessibility features, the addition of the Hiragino Mincho ProN (Serif) font selection for Japan, and an enhancement to the app’s ‘Before you go’ feature that now offers “the ability to download a free sample and email yourself a reminder about recommended books.”
A full list of new accessibility features available in today’s update below:
- Read aloud over 1.8 million titles available in the Kindle Store using Apple’s VoiceOver technology. Over 300,000 of these books are exclusive to the Kindle Store. Over 900,000 books are less than $4.99; over 1.5 million are less than $9.99.
- Seamlessly navigate within their library or within a book, with consistent title, menu and button names; navigate to a specific page within a book and sort books in the library by author or title.
- Read character-by-character, word-by-word, line-by-line, or continuously, as well as move forward or backward in the text.
- Search for a book within their library or search within their book and navigate to specific text.
- Add and delete notes, bookmarks, and highlights.
- Use customer-favorite features like X-Ray, End Actions and sharing on Facebook and Twitter.
- Look up words in the dictionary and Wikipedia.
- Customize the reading experience including changing the font, text size, background color, margin, and brightness.
- Use iOS accessibility features like Zoom, Assistive Touch, and Stereo to Mono, as well as peripheral braille displays.
Temple Run 2: After launching the follow up in its popular Temple Run series late last week, developer Imangi Studios announced today Temple Run 2 hit over 20 million downloads in just four days on the App Store.
The game rocketed to #1 Free App just eight hours after release, and is currently the #3 Top Grossing App. Free to download, Temple Run 2 is the sequel to the mega-hit original endless runner, Temple Run, which has been download over 170 million times across the App Store, Google Play and the Amazon Marketplace.
Cubase iC Pro: Released on the App Store today, Steinberg Media have launched “The most advanced Cubase remote control app” for controlling Cubase 7/6.5 from your iPhone or iPad. The app syncs with Cubase on your Mac or PC, provides a project overview, a mixer with up to a 4 independent cue-mix, and the ability to customize macros and key commands.
Connecting deeper to Cubase than any other app, Cubase iC Pro is the most advanced Cubase control app with a clear focus on recording, making it your very personal recording assistant. The project overview page and the mixer allow you to see your project as you know it from Cubase, while the key command page gives you a powerful tool to set up your most-used keyboard shortcuts and macros.
Twitterrific for Twitter version 5.0.2: A big update today goes to one of the runner-ups in our Twitter app showdown. Twitterrific for iOS was updated today with a simplified reading mode, image previews in the timeline, and images without frames in the photo viewer. The update also included a ton of improvements and bug fixes:
We already had a number of updates to Apple’s own apps today, including iWork for iOS, Apple Remote Desktop, iTunes U, Xcode 4.4, Safari 6, and OS X Server, but below is our usual list of popular apps and updates hitting the store today:
Update: Apple has now updated its Podcasts app with the expected bug fixes. Release notes below:
What’s New in Version 1.0.1
Podcasts 1.0.1 provides a number of improvements, including:
• Significant improvements to performance and stability
• Podcasts in your library now show the number of unplayed episodes
• Top Stations now show the podcast title if artwork is missing
• Playback speed is now remembered when playing the next episode
• Fix for a problem where the Subscribe button is inactive
• Resolution of an issue where Top Stations artwork may not appear
Podcasts: If you have experienced issues with Apple’s Podcasts iOS app that released last month, as many have, you will be happy to know Apple plans to release an update today that brings a number of fixes to common bugs. According to a report from AllThingsD, “Apple has been hard at work tweaking the app to fix the problems that currently plague it” and the update expected today should “vastly improve it.”
AutoCAD WS version 1.5: Autodesk’s app for viewing, editing, and sharing AutoCAD drawings on iOS devices was updated today with two new “powerful collaboration tools that transform design creation, review, and approval into a social experience.” The two features include:
Earlier this week, we reported that Apple was planning changes to its One to One program, which offers setup and training assistance to iOS and Mac users. The majority of the changes we reported included in-store changes like new, shorter half-hour sessions, and the renaming of “workshops” to “group sessions.” However, we also told you that the One to One members website would get a redesign scheduled to roll out as early as May 15. Today, we get a look at the new One to One site that features a redesigned interface for selecting and viewing tutorials and tips based on specific topics. It also offers an interface for creating and adding sticky notes, quick links to user guides and video content, and it is fully VoiceOver compatible.