Welcome to the February 2023 edition of AppleVis Unlimited, your monthly digest of the latest and most notable content on the AppleVis website. This edition features a curated selection of community-submitted updates, including new app entries, updates, news, and podcasts.
New and Noteworthy App Entries
Clusiv (iOS/iPadOS, Free)
Clusiv is an online learning platform for the blind and visually impaired that teaches occupational training, technology skills, and educational courses to empower employment.
We help remove barriers to successful employment by teaching the skills you need to be equipped for the modern workforce.
Current Version: 1.3 (January 27, 2023)
iBreathe – Relax and Breathe (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
iBreathe is a simple yet powerful app to guide you through deep breathing exercises and breathwork. Whether you are struggling with stress, anxiety, insomnia, or are trying to meditate and relax, iBreathe provides an easy-to-use beautifully designed user interface. Unlike other apps, iBreathe is designed with simplicity in mind and does not contain any bloat or clutter.
- Simple & easy to use interface
- Pre-defined exercises specifically designed to help with stress and anxiety (4-7-8 and box breathing)
- Create your own breathing exercises (inhale, exhale, hold, cycles)
- Create reminders to remind you to breathe throughout the day
- Apple Health integration to record your mindful minutes
- Learn about the benefits of deep breathing and view recommended literature by authors like James Nestor and Wim Hof
- Works great on all iOS devices and MacOS with Apple silicon chips
- iCloud sync to persist settings across all of your Apple devices
- Apple Watch App
- Lock screen widget for quick access to iBreathe
Current Version: 6.3 (February 5, 2023)
Mastodon for iPhone and iPad (iOS/iPadOS, Free)
Mastodon is the largest decentralized social network on the internet. Instead of a single website, it’s a network of millions of users in independent communities that can all interact with one another, seamlessly. No matter what you’re into, you can meet passionate people posting about it on Mastodon!
Join a community and create your profile. Find and and follow fascinating folks and read their posts in an ad-free, chronological timeline. Express yourself with custom emoji, images, GIFs, videos, and audio in 500-character posts. Reply to threads and reblog posts from anyone to share great stuff. Find new accounts to follow and trending hashtags to expand your network.
Mastodon is built with a focus on privacy and safety. Decide whether your posts are shared with your followers, just the people you mention, or the whole world. Content warnings let you hide posts containing sensitive or triggering material until you're ready to engage with them. Each community has its own guidelines and moderators to keep its members safe, and robust blocking and reporting tools help prevent abuse.
- Dark Mode: Read posts in light, dark, or true black mode
- Polls: Ask followers for their opinion and tally the votes
- Explore: Trending hashtags and accounts are a tap away
- Notifications: Get notified about new follows, replies, and reblogs
- Sharing: Post directly to Mastodon from any share sheet in any app
- Cuteness: Our mascot is an adorable elephant, and you'll see them pop up from time to time
Current Version: 1.4.12 (February 25, 2023)
MusicHarbor - Track New Music (macOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
MusicHarbor helps you stay on top of new music releases, music videos, events, and news from all your favorite artists and record labels.
MusicHarbor is tightly integrated with macOS and takes advantage of all of the device's capabilities and the latest Apple technologies.
- See all the albums from the artists and labels you follow on a chronologically ordered timeline. You can also hide feats/collabs and filter by types such as album, single, EP, remix, live and acoustic.
- See upcoming albums and add them to your calendar. There are also four different Widgets for Control Center, so you can quickly glance at the latest, upcoming, and bookmarked albums.
- Preview songs and add them to your music library or a playlist, or open the album directly on Apple Music, Spotify, or your music streaming service of choice.
- You can also track music videos categorized into video, lyric video, interview, and live performance.
NEWS AND EVENTS:
- MusicHarbor integrates with Google News and DuckDuckGo to search for the latest news from the artists you follow. So it's easier for you to be on top of everything that's happening with them. There's also a link to Songkick that you can use to find concerts. And don't forget about the links to Metacritic, Pitchfork, and AllMusic, so you can easily read reviews about your favorite albums.
- Choose from a multitude of options to make MusicHarbor your own. You can customize the information density, choose between light and dark mode, and much, much more.
Current Version: 4.6.3 (February 27, 2023)
The Salt Keep (iOS/iPadOS, US$4.99)
A novel-length text adventure (RPG meets CYOA) full of mystery and danger. Make choices and explore as you struggle to survive in a world of medieval fantasy and horror.
The Salt Keep is a text adventure (think interactive fiction with Choose Your Own Adventure and RPG mechanics) and should feel familiar to fans of classic gamebooks and fantasy fiction in general.
THE STORY - Set in a high fantasy world with low fantasy stakes, the character-driven story of The Salt Keep follows a struggling merchant named Doyle who stumbles into a life-or-death mystery. During the last legs of a months-long journey as a traveling salesman, Doyle stops in the seemingly deserted village of Cardwyke to meet a friend who has promised to help keep him financially afloat, but what he finds is even more dangerous than the crushing weight of debt.
THE SETTING - The world of The Salt Keep should be familiar to any fan of fantasy — it has breastplates, and swords, and other fun stuff like that — but is shaped by the vaguely industrial and creeping decline of feudalism. Sprawling merchant conglomerates and faceless business structures pull the levers of power as much as the dukes and knights.
The world is meant to be both a reflection of traditional fantasy settings (the England-coded sword and sorcery and D&D-style locations we're used to) and an answer to some of their most frustrating tropes. It's not a world of prophesied heroes doing Great Man Theory or of grimdark anti-heroes exposing the essential evil of humanity, but of ordinary medieval schlubs trying to survive within alienating and oppressive political systems.
Current Version: 1.0.8 (February 7, 2023)
All recent app entries posted to AppleVis can be found at:
Notable App Updates
Envision AI (iOS/iPadOS, Free)
Envision is the fastest, most reliable and award-winning OCR app that speaks out the visual world, helping blind and visually impaired users to lead more independent lives.
Envision is developed for and together with the visually impaired community. The app is simple, gets things done and brings the best assistive experience to blind and low vision users.
Simply use your phone camera to scan any piece of text, your surroundings, objects, people or products and everything will be read out to you thanks to Envision’s smart artificial intelligence (AI) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
Current Version: 3.1.6 (February 24, 2023)
Changes in Version 3.1.6
- Improved object detection with newly added objects to the list.
- Overall app performance crash fixes, stability, and localization update.
Tusker (iOS/iPadOS, Free)
Tusker is a free and flexible client for the Mastodon social network and other compatible services.
- Notification grouping: Combine favorite, boost, and follow notifications into a single row to get a more glance-able view of your notifications.
- Timeline sync: Keep your timeline position across all your devices using iCloud.
- Customize timelines: Pick which timelines (including lists and hashtags) are pinned to your home tab, and apply filters to hide posts you're not interested in.
- Tweak your experience: Tusker has a wide variety of preferences to allow you to customize how you use the app. From changing the appearance and interactions, to configuring how content warnings work, Tusker supports it all.
- Digital wellness options: Tusker has a variety of preferences to help you manage how you use social media, including by turning infinite scrolling off or showing all images in grayscale.
- Accessibility: VoiceOver, Voice Control, Dynamic Type, and more are all fully supported.
- Multiple accounts: Sign in to multiple accounts and quickly switch between them.
- Modern Mastodon features: Support editing filters, viewing trending posts/hashtags/links, following hashtags, and more. *• Broad software compatibility: Tusker also has builtin support for the Glitch and Hometown variants of Mastodon; as well as Pleroma, a Mastodon alternative; and PixelFed, a photo-sharing social network.
Current Version: 2023.4 (March 1, 2023)
Changes in Version 2023.4
This is a major release with far too many changes to list here, but here are the changes for VoiceOver users:
- VoiceOver: Make fast account switcher accessible
- VoiceOver: Improve labels for notifications
- VoiceOver: Fix custom emoji picker not having labels
Voice Dream Reader (iOS/iPadOS, US$29.99)
2021 Apple Design Award Winner! Voice Dream Reader lets you listen to PDFs, Web pages, and books using text-to-speech. Featured by Apple as Best New App and App of the Day in 81 countries and part of App Store Permanent Collections in Education.
- One premium Acapela voice of your choice free with the purchase of the app.
- 36 built-in iOS voices in 27 languages are also available for free.
- 200+ additional premium voices in 30 languages from Acapela, NeoSpeech and Ivona available through in-app purchases.
- Correct pronunciation with your own pronunciation dictionary.
- All voices work offline and play in the background even with the screen locked.
Supported Document Formats
- PDF, Plain text, MS Word, MS PowerPoint, RTF, and Google Docs.
- Web articles.
- Bookshare Books.
- EPUB eBooks. (DRM-free books only. Kindle, iBooks and most commercial eBook platforms are not supported.)
- DAISY text-based books and audiobook.
- Audiobooks in MP3, MP4 or zipped MP3 format.
- Rich text and image support for all documents.
Current Version: 4.16.0 (February 26, 2023)
Changes in Version 4.16.0
New feature: Adding text blocks in PDF documents. Now you can answer questions in a worksheet or exam, and submit your answers all from within Voice Dream Reader. To add a text block, tap and hold on an empty area and then tap on "Add Text Block". You can change the font, point size, and you can move it and resize it.
Voice Dream Scanner (iOS/iPadOS, US$9.99)
Scan paper documents, labels, signs with the camera and recognize text. Listen using built-in text-to-speech. Save and export. Unlimited use: no subscriptions or additional charges.
State-of-the-art A.I. for OCR and text recognition: Fast and accurate, even in poor lighting conditions. Works entirely on device: No need for internet and your data stays private.
Recognizes text in the following languages: Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.
ScanTone, a sound that represents the amount of recognizable text in the camera's field of view in real time. It uses artificial intelligence to analyze the live feed from the camera for text, angle, rotation, and document edges.
Exports scans as plain text or accessible PDF with embedded text. Works with Voice Dream Reader, our full-featured text-to-speech reader. Sends scanned documents directly to Reader.
Current Version: 1.5.0 (February 18, 2023)
Changes in Version 1.5.0
- Improved VoiceOver user interface when playing back recognized text.
- Some VoiceOver users might want to enable "Show Plain Text After Recognizing" in settings, and VoiceOver will read the text.
Recent News and Views
Apple Vision Accessibility: the AppleVis Report Card
We are thrilled to unveil our inaugural Apple Vision Accessibility Report Card, which provides valuable insights into the experiences and opinions of visually impaired community members who rely on VoiceOver, Braille support, or the low vision features on Apple devices.
To gather the ratings and comments contained in the report card, we conducted a comprehensive survey where participants rated their experience using Apple's various platforms with the available vision accessibility features on a scale of 1 to 5. Additionally, we invited participants to provide detailed written feedback and suggestions for enhancing Apple's vision accessibility features and user experience. The survey also included questions that assessed Apple's performance in addressing vision-related bugs, as well as the new vision accessibility features added in 2022.
The report card below presents a summary of the survey results, showcasing the areas where Apple excels and where there is room for improvement. It also includes a selection of participant comments, providing further insight into the specific challenges and opportunities related to Apple's vision accessibility offerings.
We hope that our report card will spark productive and inclusive conversations about the current state of accessibility on Apple devices for visually impaired users and influence the company's future roadmap.
Before we present the report card, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who participated in our survey. The overwhelming number of thoughtful and well-considered ratings and comments we received surpassed our expectations and made the Apple Vision Accessibility Report Card both meaningful and constructive.
We carefully reviewed and appreciate all the comments provided in the survey, and we regret that we were unable to include more of them in our final report card. However, with so many responses, it was necessary to condense the feedback to provide a concise and representative overview of the results. Everyone's contributions were invaluable, and we couldn't have achieved such insightful results without the help and time from so many in our community. Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us.
I Felt Powerless, Again
By Morgan Watkins | February 15, 2023
I really like to pretend that I have much more control over my personal circumstances than I actually do. I'm probably not alone.
Late in 2019, my wife and I had decided to replace our decade-old minivan with a newest rendition of the same thing. Sure, we wanted a dependable vehicle with a new warranty, but I also coveted a shiny new toy. She drives, I don't, but I still have needs, even if I cannot steer. What do I want in my new car? Apple Car Play? Gotta have it. More USB connectors? A must! We went through the exciting process of ordering a new minivan that would make my iPhone proud.
Personally, we are not picky. We assumed that something that resembles a standard white delivery van would be easy to procure. Our choice was a popular model and we began looking forward to our new set of wheels.
Well, that didn't happen as planned. There wasn't an available white minivan configured the way we wanted, anywhere in the world. We asked the dealership to keep looking, but then we suddenly found ourselves stuck at home in quarantine. It was March of 2020 and we put that little purchase on hold. I think my iPhone was sad.
This Month in Podcasts
A Demonstration and Walkthrough of macOS Recovery
In this episode, Tyler gives a demonstration and walkthrough of macOS Recovery, a suite of utilities that can help resolve issues with your Mac and manage startup parameters. From within macOS Recovery, you can:
- Restore your Mac from a Time Machine backup or local snapshot
- Reinstall macOS
- Verify and repair the filesystem on your startup disk, as well as external disks connected to your Mac
- Erase and reformat your startup disk, as well as external disks connected to your Mac
- Change the startup security level and other security settings for your startup disk
- Access Terminal to issue commands directly to the operating system
- Mount your disk on another Mac connected via Thunderbolt to your Mac, allowing files to be created, copied, modified, and deleted as if the disk were an external storage device
Podcasts by Thomas Domville
Hot AppleVis Content
Here are some of the most talked-about posts from the past month:
- Why Mastodon?
- Introducing Guava Health, a health tracking app for everything in one place: seeking feedback
- Seeking accessible robot vacuum cleaner recommendations
- iPhone 14 plus, or iPhone 14 pro max?
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