Announcing our Editorial Pick: One for the Wordsmiths out There

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

It's that time again, when the AppleVis Editorial Team look back at all the apps that were submitted to the site during the last month and decide which of these should be our Editorial Pick.

Although September was an extremely busy month for AppleVis, few of the new apps struck us as particularly noteworthy.

If our decision was based solely upon noteworthiness, if such a word even exists, it's likely that the new YouTube app from Google would have been the clear winner. However, even though it's probably been downloaded by the majority of visitors to this site, it has enough quirks and issues for VoiceOver users to rule it out of consideration. It would be easy to expect nothing more from a Google app, as their track record on accessibility has traditionally been poor. However, September did see Google release updates to their Gmail and Google Drive apps, and both showed enough positive signs to suggest that they might be looking to improve their record on accessibility. If true, we can hope that the next update to the YouTube app will address some of the initial problems for VoiceOver users.

Whilst on the subject of updates, both the Twitter and FourSquare apps for iOS saw some accessibility fixes in September. The former is particularly noteworthy, as it now makes the app mostly usable with VoiceOver. Considering the level of integration that the official Twitter app has with iOS and that the number of alternatives is likely to fall next year when Twitter introduces new rules for third-party apps, it is extremely important that it becomes fully accessible to blind users.

But, back to announcing the app that is our Editorial Pick for September.

Before naming it, there have to be some disclaimers - firstly, it's probably not an app that many will download, as the in-app purchase necessary to unlock the full features of the app is quite expensive at $25. Secondly, it's only recommended for iPhone or iPod Touch users right now, as there are some accessibility issues when using it on an iPad.

However, despite this, we felt that American Heritage® Dictionary — 5th Edition deserved to be our pick of the month.

As some of you might recall, Amir has previously blogged to this site about his quest for a dictionary that wasn't just accessible with VoiceOver, but would also deliver a satisfying user experience. The developers of the American Heritage® Dictionary have risen to this challenge - working with VoiceOver users, they have delivered what Amir believes to now be the best and most complete offering for anybody looking for a dictionary app. Our thanks go to the developers at AHD for demonstrating a positive commitment to accessibility.

As always, we'd love to hear what you thought were the pick of the September crop.

And finally, we are pleased to announce that the winner of this month's iTunes Gift Card Giveaway is Jennifer from Virginia. We hope that you enjoy spending your $20!

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5 Comments

#1 Hmmm

I'm sorry, but I don't think 25$ is all that expensive considering the hard copies of the dictionary are at least that much if not more.

#2 The $25 price tag

That's a fair point, but in this instance I think that most people will look at whether this will offer them $25 worth of extra benefit over a free or very cheap dictionary app rather than compare it to the price of a printed edition of AHD. I suspect that many will find $25 difficult to justify for the levels of detail and features that they realistically need from a dictionary app. Of course, for those who do need or desire everything that AHD offers, then I am sure that it will be well worth the $25.

#3 Prices

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

That's very true, Meaghan. The AHD 5 hard copy can be had on Amazon for $37.50. Also, while $25 might seem expensive, it's not uncommon for reference apps to have price tags of $29 or $55 on the App Store. The nice point about AHD 5's app is that its updated on a monthly or bimonthly basis, and as part of these updates its contents, definitions and examples are updated at least semianually as Houghton Mifflin makes them available. In fact, the next major database update of that ilk might very well be part of the upcoming AHD 5 release.

#4 Re: The $25 price tag

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Nicely put, Janner. However, the point is that even finding basic or cheap dictionaries which are truly accessible with VoiceOver is a challenge in and out of itself. To this day I've tried many free, $0.99, and $1.9 ones but all of them (with the exception of the cheap Advanced Dictionary and Thesaurus which isn't a dictionary as much as it's a thesaurus albeit a loosely organized one) suffer from that annoying internal hyperlinking problem. Moreover, the built-in iOS dictionary isn't really usable because apart from not allowing us to type words into it, selecting the exact word we want defined via VoiceOver in many of the apps (especially the reading-oriented ones) is a big hassle. Of course, one might also use Siri to look up words though apart from requiring Internet access, it doesn't work for all words and stics to the most basic or the most commonly applied definitions for many terms. At the end of the day, its purchase very much boils down to how much one relishes the world of words.

#5 Thank you very much!

Thank you once again for the gift card. It will continue helping me identify useful apps and accessible ones to post on this website. Thank you to everyone in the community for all you do, especially the editorial team.