Welcome to the January 2024 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
Black Ink crosswords (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Black Ink, the popular Mac crossword-solving app, is now available for iOS! Enjoy the stunningly beautiful grids and elegant solving mechanics of this beloved app. Works with multiple free puzzles available on the web, and with paid puzzles including the New York Times, American Values Club, Inkubator, Crossword Nation, and more.
Note: Users have reported some minor accessibility issues with this app, but the developer has posted to AppleVis that they are working to resolve these.
Current Version: 2.0.2 (January 25, 2024)
Dawncaster: Deckbuilding RPG (iOS/iPadOS, US$4.99)
Dive into the the action packed world of Dawncaster and test your deckbuilding skills!
Play as a cunning rogue, a brutal warrior, or a mysterious Seeker wielding arcane magic. Or create your own class and play as who- or whatever you want to be! Start playing today, create a unique deck with access to over 600 cards and see how far you can venture into the corrupted lands of Umbris.
- Every step of your heroic journey offers new tactical choices to improve your deck and strategy. Collect cards that match your playstyle, avoid disastrous events and build your strategy before the forces of evil overwhelm you.
- Dawncaster offers unique mechanics to even the most veteran card game players. Though most of the gameplay should feel familiar, the ability to combine class mechanics into deck building, weapons, enchantments, and its unique energy system are exciting additions to the card game genre!
- Discover the mystery of the missing ‘Dawncaster’, a hero of legend who has been lost in the corrupted realm of Umbris. Slay monsters and explore the darkest depths of a desperate world through handcrafted illustrations, dialogue and shape its future through your choices.
- Dawncaster is offered as a complete deck builder cardgame. You get access to all cards, classes, and content with your purchase. No need to buy packs, tokens, or waste time on timers or ads. Future content will be offered through expansions at the same, single price per adventure kind of deal.
- With randomized encounters, unique classes, and choices to explore, playtime could easily reach the tens of hours for those that enjoy a challenge! Additional difficulty options are available for those that seek to push the limits of their strategic insight (and/or luck).
Current Version: 1.12.02 (January 31, 2024)
Microsoft Copilot (iOS/iPadOS, Free)
Copilot is a pioneering chat assistant from Microsoft powered by the latest OpenAI models, GPT-4 and DALL·E 3. These advanced AI technologies provide fast, complex, and precise responses, as well as the ability to create breathtaking visuals from simple text descriptions.
Chat and create all in one place—for free!
A versatile AI assistant to boost productivity
With this amazing AI assistant at your side, you can accomplish work, school, or personal tasks even faster, including:
- Draft emails
- Compose stories or scripts
- Summarize complex texts
- Multilingual content translation, proofreading, and optimization
- Create personalized travel itineraries
- Write and updating job resumes
Boost design efficiency with Image Creator
Image Creator can transform your design process by quickly creating high quality visuals from text prompts, rendering your concepts into stunning visuals, from the abstract to the photorealistic.
Explore an array of design capabilities:
- Quickly explore new styles and ideas
- Curate social media content
- Develop brand motifs
- Generate logo designs
- Create custom backgrounds
- Build and update a portfolio
- Create illustrations for books
- Visualize film and video storyboards
By combining the power of GPT-4 with the imaginative capabilities of DALL·E 3, Copilot not only enhances your design workflow, but can also bring your creativity to inspiring new heights.
Current Version: 2.1.0 (January 30, 2024)
virgin pulse (iOS/iPadOS, Free)
Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step on the path toward becoming a healthier, happier you. Download this secure app to gain access to the tips and tools you need to improve your health today.
- Start by setting and tracking goals that matter most to you
- Build new healthy habits into your daily routine
- Expand your mind and move your body with fresh daily tips
- Access experts on meditation, exercise, wellness and more – when and where you need it
Let the journey to a healthier, happier you begin. It’s going to be epic.
Virgin Pulse integrates with the Apple Health app. This lets you share your iPhone steps, Apple Watch steps, and exercise and energy data with Virgin Pulse. We use this data to help you track your activity and be on the path to a healthier you.
Current Version: 3.225.1 (January 7, 2024)
Wordvoyance (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Wordvoyance, the online multiplayer crossword building game with accessibility built-in! Instantly familiar to anyone who has played games like it, Wordvoyance matches are faster and more exciting - but more importantly, ad free! Then, if you're a user of accessibility tools like VoiceOver, the game fully supports your screen reader and offers plenty of tools to help you organize and keep track of the action while you play.
At long last, visually-impaired and fully sighted players alike can enjoy this classic board game together!
This iOS App version of Wordvoyance supports additional gestures and accessibility shortcuts that make it so much easier to play. Quickly check your work and submit your turn with a Magic Tap. Three-finger scroll left and right between the beginnings of words on the board. Swipe between headings to hop between the game board, tile rack, and all of the game's additional game status readouts. Use the Escape gesture to quickly close dialogs and reclaim tiles from play.
There's more! Wordvoyance fully supports keyboards and game controllers too! This is the first crossword game with our innovative cursor input method that enables methods of play beyond just drag and drop - though, that's supported as well. It not only makes blind play a breeze, it's incredibly useful even if you're not visually impaired.
Current Version: 1.0.0 (August 1, 2023)
All recent app entries posted to AppleVis can be found at:
Notable App Updates
Circus Master's Revenge (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
An epic non-graphic binaural battle of circus freaks, which you will never forget & which will need you to have tremendous courage in order to defend yourself. Beware, the circus master is definitely not very friendly. Like most antagonists, he tries to hurt your feelings as often as possible to throw you off your game. Hopefully, his insults will enforce you to focus on the enemy. Good luck to anyone who is up to the challenge. Hope, you enjoy it.
Current Version: 1.2 (January 15, 2024)
Changes in Version 1.2
Chapter 3 is finally here! Sorry for the short pause. Lol. Mental Visions new mission is to build a permanent Company team this year. I don’t wanna give up on this community because I am one of you and I’m still having fun.. starting a new project this year as well. Don’t worry though, the Circus Master may still have some surprises for you guys. Right now Mental Vision just wants to survive. Trying to keep everyone updated on things by the Mental Vision Games YouTube channel. Thank you for all your patience and support. Happy hunting (Blind Puppies)!!
Speech Central AI Voice Reader (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Feature set that exceeds the competition, no subscription for the premium tier with the free tier that can be customised to be limited by the quantity or by the quality, that is the reason why you'll love Speech Central. Here are just some of our outstanding features:
- The best text-to-speech experience - our proprietary engine significantly enhances the output of Apple's voices and AI voices by infusing their readings with emotion and variation.
- The best PDF support in text to speech apps - your reading flow will not be interrupted by footers, headers, footnotes, in text citations and long web links as they are detected by the advanced artificial intelligence in most cases. No other app has all those features. Even the scanned PDF documents are imported with titles recognised.
- The best web support in text to speech apps - for the first time you can listen everything as both articles and headlines (including RSS feeds) are supported. Articles can be added from the headlines page for fully uninterrupted flow or from Safari. And you can send articles from the desktop browser with the Pocket extension.
- The widest support for documents/office and e-book formats.
- Knowledge and text annotation tools built-in.
- Import the text from the physical books with the camera.
- The widest choice of options to customize the voice, appearance and various other parameters.
- Sync playlist items across Apple devices including with the macOS app and the current position in the text.
- Apple Watch app that can play the content independently of the main app.
- Export the text with annotations to .docx format
- Functions of audio buttons can be customized for high productivity and accessibility. The widest selection of tools to control the speed and browse the text that is read aloud.
- The app can be used with dozens of languages that have text-to-speech support on the device with automatic language detection from the content.
- Export the text to the audio file.
- The best in class accessibility. It is completely free when used with VoiceOver and tested to be accessible by legally blind users.
- Your data stays truly private, we collect only analytics data with no identifiable reference to the user or imported content even when the syncing is enabled.
- Track the Mindfulness time in the Health app
Current Version: 14.3.0 (January 31, 2024)
Changes in Version 14.0
The biggest update to any text-to-speech app ever! Completely rewritten from scratch with over 1000 improvements, most notably:
- New engine that controls voices and adds emotion and variations to the reading with up to 4x speeds for both Apple and Microsoft voices
- Design overhaul that maximises the space for the text on iPhone and adds sidebar functionality to the iPad
- Multiwindow/multidocument support on the iPad
- Instant mode for quick and simple reading
- Music Intermezzo - inject Apple Music into your listening
- Improved accessibility
- Improved sync - more comprehensive, robust and performant
- Numerous new settings options
- Siri voice command to start playing now works even behind the lock screen
Study Snacks: Playful Learning (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Turn learning into a word puzzle in Study Snacks!
The idea is simple - you create a study list, like one for countries and their capital or English words and their translation into Spanish. Study Snacks will split these words into pieces and you have to put them back together. With multiple learning modes, splitting types, and a study plan, Study Snacks will help you to memorize that knowledge without ever feeling like learning.
- Created by an Apple Design Award-nominated indie developer
- Download dozens of learning lists for free in the Store!
- Focus: Get special learning lessons to help you learn a list faster
- Create a learning plan to stay on track with your goals
- Scan lists via the camera or import them as a CSV from Excel or Google Drive (Plus feature)
- Excellent Accessibility features (VoiceOver Support, dyslexic font, large type support, custom color schemes, simplified layout & custom rotors)
- Multiple Study modes & ways to split the terms
- Widget, iCloud Sync & SharedWithYou
Current Version: 2.1 (January 30, 2024)
Changes in Version 2.0.1
Rebranding! "Study with Subwords" is now called "Study Snacks"! To celebrate this change, here is the biggest update yet!
- New name and new app icons!
- Focus: Continuously learn vocabulary or any other topic with this hot new feature. Each day, you will get three dishes: A "Starter", a "Main Course" and a "Dessert" with special ingredients that will help you on your learning journey!
- New learning mode: Find the Pairs!
- Text to Speech: Words are now spoken out when you correctly solve them. You can also tap on each word in the list to get it spoken out for you.
- Accessibility: Lexend font, intended to reduce visual stress
- Many wording and design tweaks throughout the app to fit the rebrand
Also fixed an issue when learning a list as "Focus" when VoiceOver is turned on. Thank you Teena for letting me know!
Voice Dream - Read Aloud (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Apple Design Award Winner! Voice Dream - Read Aloud lets you listen to PDFs, textbooks, Web pages, emails, and books using advanced AI Text To Speech!
- 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.
- Correct pronunciation with your own pronunciation dictionary.
- All voices work offline and play in the background even with the screen locked.
Current Version: 4.27.3 (January 26, 2024)
Changes in Version 4.27.2
Fix bug with loading content from Safari. Custom margins for PDFs, support for more audio files and fix go to percentage
We're adding customizable margins! In a PDF you can now override the margins, so things like page numbers, chapter titles, etc. do not have to be read aloud.
VoiceVista (iOS/iPadOS, Free)
VoiceVista is a critical application for the blind and low vision users' community. It is built upon Microsoft's discontinued and open-source project Soundscape (https://aka.ms/ossblog) and is licensed under the MIT License (https://github.com/microsoft/soundscape/blob/main/LICENSE.txt).
The app leverages advanced iOS audio technology and precise location services to empower individuals in developing a heightened sense of their environment. It offers reassurance in unfamiliar settings, assisting users in forming mental maps and confidently navigating their desired routes.
Current Version: 1.3.3 (January 27, 2024)
Changes in January
- Surrounding callouts triggering from Apple Watch
- Web and Telephone for Points of Interest
- Category information for Points of Interest
- Creating a route to marker or place directly
- Remove marker prefix accessibility label in Markers tab
- Double-tap on accuracy to hear GPS information
- Sound effects illustration
- GPS Information callouts
Weather Gods (iOS/iPadOS, Free With In-App Purchases)
Introducing Weather Gods, a unique weather experience where the elements come to life through the divine powers of Fire, Ice, Water, Air, and Moon. Our revolutionary app redefines weather forecasting with stunning visualizations, dynamic graphics, and immersive audio, allowing you to truly see, hear, and feel the weather around you.
Say goodbye to complex weather icons. Weather Gods provides the fastest, most engaging, and enjoyable way to obtain accurate weather information. Our goal is to deliver the most intuitive and visually stunning experience available.
Seamlessly integrating premium hyperlocal weather data, Weather Gods ensures precise forecasts for over a million locations worldwide. Whether you're a casual user or a weather enthusiast, our elegant and user-friendly interface captivates you from the moment you launch the app.
Current Version: 4.5.0 (January 29, 2024)
Changes in Version 4.5.0
National Weather Service Products
- Explore a variety of offerings from the United States National Weather Service (NWS), encompassing a broad range of weather-related information. This collection features local area forecasts, official statements, weather outlooks, regional weather updates, travelers' forecasts, and much more. It's important to note that the availability of these products may differ based on location.
Daily Forecast Widget
- You can now add a Daily Forecast Home Screen Widget. Available in three different sizes, medium (4 days), large (7 days) and for the iPad, extra large with smart charts
Severe Weather Improvements
- Lightning, Storm Threats and Local Storm Reports are now available on the Watch.
- These have been extended to include Sunrise, Sunset, Moonrise, Moonset and Air Quality.
Narrow Location Lookup
- Activating Narrow Location Lookup will yield results from more specific areas, such as villages, city districts, and small towns. Configure under the 'Follow Me' settings.
Custom Watch Settings
- Enhanced customization options are now available for the widget and complication settings, enabling distinct configurations for the Watch that differ from those on the Phone. To take advantage of these personalized settings, it's essential to disable the 'Mirror Phone Settings' option on the Watch.
Recent News and Views
Apple Vision Accessibility: the 2023 AppleVis Report Card
By AppleVis | January 15, 2024
We are thrilled to unveil our 2023 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 2023.
We greatly appreciated everyone who took the time to complete the survey. Your participation was vital to producing a meaningful and accurate report card that reflects the real-world experiences of blind and low vision Apple users. Every completed survey response voiced valuable feedback and plays a part in advocating for continuous improvements in Apple's vision accessibility features.
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.
TLDR: the 2023 Apple Vision Accessibility Report Card reveals slightly decreasing satisfaction with VoiceOver features and user experience across iOS, iPadOS and macOS compared to 2022, contrasted by mostly improved ratings for braille and low vision capabilities. While reactions to new 2023 vision accessibility features were moderately more positive with a 3.7 average rating compared to 3.5 in 2022, Apple's performance in addressing critical bugs remains low at 3.0. Overall the latest report card points to regressions in the VoiceOver experience but progress expanding support for braille and low vision users, tempered by persistent dissatisfaction regarding bug fixes.
This report card enables our community to speak up and be heard directly by Apple. We hope that it 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.
A Guide to Information Security and Privacy on macOS
By Tyler | January 22, 2024
If you own a computer or mobile device, you probably know that while it can do some amazing things, the fact that it is used to store and handle some of your most personal and sensitive data makes securing it essential. In this guide, I will give an overview of some of the security, privacy, and anti-malware features included in macOS, in order to give you a clearer understanding of what you should and shouldn’t use in your situation. Keep in mind that this guide is not intended as a technical deep dive, nor is it intended to advise on a specific security threat that you may encounter. Rather, it is intended as a simple explainer of numerous features built into macOS that aim to keep your Mac, data, and online accounts reasonably private and secure.
While the features and tips I describe in this guide are quite useful for protecting your Mac, data, and online accounts, it is important to note that none of these features are a replacement for good user judgement. In fact, it is often said that the weakest point in the security strategy for any computer, mobile device, or network is the user, as even when established best practices are followed, users may still fall victim to social engineering schemes that exploit their sense of fear, empathy, or compassion.
For this reason, it is important to be aware of some of the most common tactics of such schemes, in order to identify them before they can compromise your Mac or online accounts. Therefore, later in this guide, I will provide a list of tips to help avoid such attempts.
- iOS 17.3 and iPadOS 17.3 Released With Stolen Device Protection for iPhones, Collaborative Playlists, and New Wallpaper
- Apple Releases macOS 14.3, watchOS 10.3, and tvOS 17.3 With Minor Enhancements
- Apple Vision Pro Available in the U.S. On February 2, Pre-Orders Begin Next Week
This Month in Podcasts
AppleVis Unleashed January 2024: The Writing is on the Wall
In this month's edition of AppleVis Unleashed, Thomas Domville, Mike Malarsie, and John Gassman discuss recent Apple news and other topics of interest. Topics featured in this episode include:
- 2023 AppleVis Golden Apple Award Winners
- Apple Vision Accessibility: the 2023 AppleVis Report Card
- blood oxygen features Removed from Apple Watch
- At Last Apple Vision Pro has Arrived
- Apple’s Wall Garden Crumbling Before our Eyes Part 1: External App Payment Options
- Apple’s Wall Garden Crumbling Before our Eyes Part 2: Side Loading and Opening Tap to Pay Options
- What's in the new iOS 17.3
- Latest News on the Upcoming iPhone 16
AppleVis Extra #97: Zanagrams and Beyond A Conversation with Zach Tidwell
In this AppleVis Extra, Thomas Domville talk to Zach Tidwell, the developer of Zanagrams, the word game that won the 2023 AppleVis Golden Apples Award for the Best Game of the year. Zanagrams is a fun and challenging game that tests your vocabulary and spelling skills. Zach shares his inspiration, challenges, and tips for creating an accessible and engaging game for blind and low vision users. Tune in to hear his story and learn more about Zanagrams.
How to Encrypt an External Disk on macOS
In this episode, Tyler demonstrates how to encrypt an external disk on macOS for improved security of the disk's contents.
Podcasts by Thomas Domville
- How to Share Your AirTags with Friends and Family on iOS
- Making Webpages Talk with the Listen to Page Feature on iOS
Hot AppleVis Content
Here are some of the most talked-about posts from the past month:
- AI-powered Screen Reader for Mac
- I wrote a Shortcut to make getting descriptions of Screenshots easy.
- Photo descriptions, AI, facial recognition and the law of privacy
- The reason why apple is so rich?... It gets us to do all the work... The bug/beta paradox...
- Menus4ALL Accessible Restaurant Menus - App Discontinued
- Curious opinion, what will you do when physical buttons aren't around?
- Introducing Fin - Budget Tracker
- Eldrum: Black Dust - officially announced
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To learn more about Club AppleVis and how you can join, please visit www.applevis.com/club-applevis