Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Morality is in the Gutter

June 7, 2011

The agreements between companies and their outside developers are stringent. Apple for example have often been criticised for the extension of their own secrecy policy to the terms of agreement in their developer programmes. This topic has again been unearthed this week with the announcements at WWDC.

I’m all for people testing. I also get excited when sites like mac Rumours talk about things but I treat them as merely rumours.

I personally know several individuals on the developer scheme and while most of them stick to the non disclosure policy, I’ve seen several who are outright breaking it.

Today it was released that there’s a “backdoor” to get iOs5 through a security leak and my favourite thing I’ve heard is that blind people must get it to ensure it activates.

I seriously roll my eyes at that. There are several blind individuals on the developer programme and if iOS doesn’t activate, they’ll let Apple know the “right way”.

I have to say, this self righteous attitude that we can break rules just to suit ourselves in the blind community is shoddy and needs to stop. You cannot have it all ways. Expect to be treated equally and then put yourself above the rules by flinging the blind card everywhere for the world to see when it suits you; hypocritical, methinks?

I am not saying sighted people or others with different disabilities are not breaching the terms of use and that is also wrong but do not use “the blind card” to justify your piracy.

To the developers who are VI and are testing both Lion and iOS5 while sticking to you’re binding agreement, I applaud you for both. Because you are testing and reporting back to Apple, you are doing the rest of us a service.

Was I tempted? Sure! If we can get something for nothing, most of us are but I will not get either Lion or iOs5 until I can purchase Lion and update my iOS devices in iTunes.

It seems mighty unfair that people who have shed out money to test to give what I I hope is constructive feedback to Apple are being tarnished with a brush by selfish and arrogant individuals determined to get their own way because they can.

I know I’m stepping onto moral high ground but seems the level of morality is in a ditch for most people these days. All I can say to those doing the backdoor way, just know, if it blows up in your face neither Apple nor your phone company will give a damn. I suspect developers and anyone on their account has cover via some reference number and that is fine but just know you are not covered under this unorthodox method.

If I was a developer, I may test and who knows, one day that may happen. With the next version of the Mac OS I might enter into the development programme as I have a spare mac at home now to test on but it wouldn’t be so I could blog about features.

The iPad: A Review

May 29, 2010

[Note to reader; I’m assuming you’re familiar with the iPhone OS to some extent in this article].

 

Since the US launch of the iPad at the beginning of April, worldwide customers hankered for the news of their own launch dates. Just a few weeks ago, UK customers, along with those from eight other countries, including, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Japan were able to pre-order their iPads for a 28TH May release date, while other countries still anxiously await their launch date, expected to be announced sometime in July.

 

I, along with many others, pre-ordered my iPad, opting for the 32 Gig wifi model and impatiently waited for it to arrive. It came early though, a day in fact and am I glad I was home Thursday morning to receive my new toy. I created an unboxing podcast and could not wait to play with the iPad.

 

Initial Reaction

GORGEOUS!

It’s sleek and very aesthetic, even to the touch. A slightly curved back with the smooth glass touch screen we were promised. Everything about the iPad, before you switch it on is beautiful. And I don’t believe I’m saying this because I genuinely love Apple products. The keys are seamlessly fitted into the device and nothing looks out of place on this sleek unit.

 

Setting Up!

 

The setting up process is such a breeze. Literally, plug it in, register it and turn on universal access and off you go.

[Note, the device needs to be connected to a computer running the latest version of iTunes for it to work so you do need a computer to utilise the iPad.]

setting up voice over or Zoom or contrast on the iPad is very similar to the way it is achieved on the touch, iPhone, nanos and the shuffles. In summary within the iPad, or as voice over calls it in iTunes, iPod scroll area, VO to universal access and select voice over on under the “seeing” section. Once the iPad has synced, voice over will come on as I’m sure the other desired methods will.

 

You have a choice to use back-ups from any other devices, I.E. iPhone or I’m assuming iPod Touch. I chose to not do this as I wanted to customise the iPad at my own leisure and although I have put a few of my iPhone apps on the device, I didn’t want them all there.

 

First Use!

 

Using the iPad is as Steve Jobs said, “Magical”. It feels at home under your fingers and when taking the experience at a leisurely pace, you can truly appreciate the style the iPad has. It is a lot bigger than other touch devices that people may be used to using but that is an advantage. Using apps like settings, mail and safari gives an intricate experience with the iPad screen. Now, you can select a general setting in the settings app and see all of your choices without having to go back to the previous page if you want to select the mail/contacts/calendar settings, for example in Settings. Mail is beautiful on the iPad, being able to see your emails in the left column and read the message in the main screen area. And Safari definitely utilises the screen giving the browsing experience a whole new level of smoothness and realness.

 

iBooks, worth it?

 

Although the UK store is not populated to capacity, and I am realistic about this fact, it will take time to become my primary book source, it is amazing. I’ve downloaded a few free classics so far and have searched the store for some titles and found a few that I shall be purchasing soon. The search function was a little tricky at first but this is where one of the new gestures comes into its own. Although, the four-finger-swipe can be used in apps like mail or settings to jump from the selection list down the left side to the content area and vice versa, I didn’t comprehend it would work in the app or iBook store. But it does. I four-finger-swiped and was able to type my search, swipe again and see the results. A wonderful edition to the Apple repertoire of gestures.

 

Actually reading on the app is wonderful. I can lay my iPad down and let it read to me or use my fingers to scan down the page. It’s a very personal experience of reading books I’ve not experienced before. Braille has to be read word to word and audio has someone else’s voice and interpretation while iBooks utilises the voice over voice, your own interpretation is very real.

 

Twitter, IM and social Networks?

 

As I no longer have a facebook account, I shall comment on the social networks I have used on the iPad. Twitter Apps are few and far between on the iPad right now. Some of my favourites have not yet transgressed to the iPad. However I’ve found an app for the iPad that is accessible and works good enough. Not had that much experience to comment on some features but it reads your timelines, you can reply, DM, retweet and such but no list support as yet. And I’m assuming there’s multiple account support but haven’t tried so don’t quote me on that. That app is Tweet and it’s free.

 

I haven’t found an iPad specific app for apps such as Fring or Nimbuzz which I use on the iPhone so I’m using the fring app for now. I have it in full screen mode and still works nicely. They tend to only work in portrait and seen as I have my iPad in landscape for the majority of use, this can be a slight annoyance but once the app is Ipad specific, [let’s keep hoping], it’ll work beautifully. There is a slight border around the screen in full mode but it is still workable.

 

Skype works nicely on the iPad too. In the UK, still no iPad specific app but I’m told they have one in the US now so we’ll just have to wait for our version to hit the App store.

 

Typing!

 

I immediately opted for touch typing mode which I love. This can be changed while in an edit field with the rotor setting. I am finding I’m becoming quicker all of the time but will still opt for my wireless keyboard for extensive use. Touch typing will become easier and feels very natural. When I go to type on my iPhone, I hold the key down to hear the phonetic letter and it of course never comes and often forget to split tap to enter text. I cannot wait for touch typing in 4.0 on the iPhone. Typing on an almost full sized keyboard feels good and even if your finger is a letter out, sliding it to the right letter and lifting up feels great. Double tapping here will lead you to the need of a lot of deleting.

 

The phonetic speaking letters are a welcome edition to the iPhone OS and will strongly be looking forward to utilising this function on the iPhone.

 

 

Sound quality!

One Word! Awesome! The speaker sounds wonderful and the US voice I opt to use sounds incredible. Music and videos perform nicely and even though I haven’t tried it yet, I’m assuming headphones will sound just as crisp and clear.

 

Weight!

 

It is heavier than the touch and iPhone but this seemed obvious to me. Its compact and durable and I like the weight so I don’t lose it somewhere. It is not so heavy you could not carry it around with ease and yet it’s not light enough that you will forget it’s on your lap.

 

Overall Impressions!

I waited eagerly since the announcement in January and I have to say I am delighted with the product. Is it worth the money? Ask me that after a few weeks of working with it but I will go out there on a limb and say yes, I’m glad I paid for such a revolutionary product. Do I think it’s an oversized iPhone? No! It’s a different product entirely and the beauty of it is, people will choose to use their iPads for their own uses. There’s no rule book when it comes to the iPad and that is what I love the most about it.

 

 

The iPad is Coming! the iPad is coming!

May 7, 2010

The iPad is coming! The iPad is coming!

Apple today announced today, 7TH May 2010 that the iPad is being rolled out to Australia, Canada, the UK, Spain, france, Germany, Italy, Japan and switzerland on 28TH May. So far, UK pricing has been released as follows:
Wifi 16 gig, £429
Wifi 32 Gig, £499
Wifi 64 Gig, £599
Wifi + 3G, £529
Wifi + 3G, £599
Wifi + 3G, £699
All prices include VAT and can be pre-ordered 10TH May with apple. all models can be bought through Apple’s online store or their retail stores and through selective third party retailers.

The iBooks app will also be released in these countries on the same day but release dates, pricing for other countries is expected in July.

So finally we have a date. Now the choice is in your hands, if to buy, which model do you get your eager hands on?

Opening The Door with Apple’s IPad?

April 1, 2010

With the launch of Apple’s next big thing on the US horizon, it is hard to escape the many articles either reviewing or speculating about the IPad.

When it was announced back in January that the IPad, otherwise known as the much anticipated Apple Tablet, rumours began to fly about all kinds of things. For those of us interested in the accessibility, Apple did not fail to deliver, including the much loved and used voice over feature on the IPad.

Since its introduction last June, the voice over feature on the IPhone and IPod Touch consequently in september, has enabled thousands of visually impaired users to utilise the products as freely as their sighted counterparts with no extra cost. Despite everyone being uncertain whether it would be introduced last year, it has possibly become an assumption that Apple would not leave out this excellent, innovative feature. And even as the IPad was launched, we soon learned that voice over was indeed featured on there too.

However, questions began to rise in conjunction with a new Apple store launching and what it would mean for the visually impaired and dyslexic users of the IPad and its technology. IBooks promise to potentially open up doors never as open as before. As true that there are organisations in many countries around the world that offer merely a fragment of printed materials in alternative formats, the amount of that content available compared to the general market is miniscule.

Enter the IPad

At launch, this product seemed as though it could be the answer to many avid readers’ dreams. Especially those with a “print impairment”. If the voice over stretched to the IBooks feature at least. However, anyone who has been around this debate for the last year or so, will know that there has been many fights about whether Text to speech is actually a violation of audio copyright.

Most of us sensible people would state that audio books are completely different to those read by a screen reader. However, the author’s gild did not agree with that notion and filed a suit against Amazon and its Kindle reader last year to ensure a feature was available to authors/publishers to turn off the speech functionality of the Kindle if they so desired.

granted, I realise that this protects the content somewhat from hackers but as no expert in the matter I will comment no further on this except to say, while you’re keeping the hackers out you are also blocking millions of readers from accessing the material because of an impairment. Even though the Author’s gild still seem rather adamant about the reading aloud situation, I’m not entirely certain Apple will back down as easily as Amazon did.

Apple’s policy of universal access would completely be in disarray if Apple allowed the voice over feature to be turned off on certain books. Not to mention the fact that it should be an individual’s right to choose how they read a book. For those who are print impaired, walking into a bookstore and picking up a book is not an option. Audio books are only on occasion made in comparison to publication of print books so Ebooks seems like the most viable option to not only avid readers but to students alike.

Imagine, trying to study and be unable to get hold of the core text because it is simply not available in the format you need. Thousands of print editions but no other alternative and if there is, I.E. an Ebook you are unable to read it because the devices capable of doing so have been blocked access because the author’s gild deem your screen reader as equivalent to a human voice.

It does seem Apple have not gone into this with their eyes shut, they rarely do but after reading and rereading the statement on their Ibooks feature page where it says,
“iBooks works with VoiceOver, the screen reader in iPad, so it can read you the contents of any page.” and maybe I am reading too much into this but it says can read the contents of “any page”. That suggests that the DRM ability like so many other devices has protected against the “print impaired” users accessing the books does not exist here. Apple does not state, will read all the content on an unprotected book’s page or anything to that affect. So, I do conclude that Apple have
A. Thought this through and
B. are keeping to their universal access policy.

The IPad, along with being a potentially fun and innovative way to do work on the go or watch movies in the car could also possibly open up the reading and studying world for millions of people that has remained firmly closed because of simple red tape.

Welcome the IPad and yet another product from Apple that just keeps making me and many others love their products more.

Changing How Voice Over Says things

March 26, 2010

Ever wanted to change how voice over says something? Well you can. Here’s how

Hit VO-F8 to open the voice over utility.
arrow down through the categories list until you get to speech.
VO-right and on pronunciation hit VO-Space to select it.
Now to the right of the pronunciation button is a table. Mac automatically edits the way some symbols are spoken but to add your own vo to add.
You should be in the first column where you type your word. So for example, the phrase lol should read laughing out loud. So type lol in the first column and then VO-right.
You need to hit VO-Space here to enter your new word, otherwise it just types your word in the first column. So where it says substitution, hit VO-Space to ensure you’re about to edit the word in the write column, it should make a pop sound to allow you to know its in the right place, type laughing out loud.
To add another word repeat the process.

You can change a word for certain applications, so if you want Lol to only work in your IM client then you can select that from the applications menu within the table.

To delete an entry
Simply highlight it in the table by putting your voice over cursor on it, stop interacting with the table and VO-right to delete and vo-space to carry out the action.

To edit an entry.
Interact with the table.
Find the entry with your VO keys you want to edit.
Ensure you VO-space on the entry you want to edit whether that be the word or the substitution before you attempt to edit it.

Hope this helps you guys.
Any questions please let me know

Apple’s IPad

March 25, 2010

I know, I know, I’m all late to the party. But just to let you all know, as soon as I get my hands on an IPad, I shall be reporting on it.

Unfortunately, it’s looking like the UK will only get our IPads toward the end of April, more bureaucracy I’m guessing but as soon as I can get to an Apple store, I shall be blogging about the experience.

As an IPhone user, I’m excited about this and who knows, you guys may be lucky enough to get a podcast out of me for it.

Address Book: A Quick start

March 25, 2010

Quick start Address Book

This great app works fantastically for storing all your contacts, whether its full details or just an email. On the mac, Email and messengers can access the information stored in your address book and the beauty being if you are a proud owner of an IPhone, all your contacts sync so you have them on the go.

because Address book is a native mac application, you already have it. Unless you made any changes to your doc, it should be there so hit vo-d and hit ADD to get address book highlighted and hit enter or vo-space.

Once address book is open just to make a new contact hit cmd-N and a scroll area will come up.
Interact with it vo-shift-down arrow and enter your information.
The first box will be first name, then last name, [if you have it set to default] and then company.
The next field is phone and this is usually set to work. You can change this however by using the pop up box as seen in other applications.
The edit field is the box to write the corresponding number. all boxes are labelled so each field shouldn’t be too hard to edit to your requirements.

Editing a birthday
If you use ICal, this will be an easy thing for you to do. But I’ll go over it here.
When you get to the birthday, interact and use your vo-left and right to highlight date, month and year. To change each element use vo-up and down. It must be done this way or else it won’t move the columns as it should. Once you’ve finished stop interacting, vo-shift-up arrow.

You can add fields if they are not there as default. If its just for one card, do the following.
With the card in edit mode, [outside the scroll area to the right it will say edit card and if that box is checked you’re in edit mode]. Go to card menu and insert field, go into the sub menu and select your chosen added field. Then fill it in.

Groups
You may want to group your contacts as friends, colleagues, online contacts etc. You can do this too in address book. [note, at the minute a few extra steps must be taken to create or edit groups. This issue has been reported to apple and we hope for a fix in future updates].
to create a group interact with the groups table [if its showing]. If not, hit cmd-1. Then turn VO off, [don’t worry you’ll be fine without it]. cmd-F5 to turn VO off and then hit cmd-shift-N and type your group name and hit enter. Now using cmd-F5 turn VO back on. See, that wasn’t too scary now was it?
Too add a contact to your new group either highlight that group in the group table and hit CMD-N to create a new contact or VO to the names table and hit CMD-C to copy the contact and then highlight the group you want to copy the contact to and VO back to the names table and paste your contact, CMD-V.

You can edit the default card set out via going to card menu, add field and edit template.

That should get you going. Any questions let me know.

ICal quick guide for your mac

January 29, 2010

ICal: Quick guide
[mac!]

Once you know how this app works you will love it. I’m running Snow Leopard up to date and only use the keyboard.

Ensure a few things first.
1. You’re in month view. hit cmd-3 to ensure this.
2. Make sure mini view is turned off.
3. You use VO rather than Tab.

To create an event first open ICal from the doc, [unless you moved it, its there]. Otherwise open from apps in finder.

To create a new event vo to the calendar list and vo to the calendar you want your event to be filed under, I.E. Home/work. uninteract with the table and vO to the calendar canvas and hit cmd-N, type what you want the event to be called, I.E. doctors’ App. Then VO right and interact with the events scroll area. The first edit box is location, fill or leave it, it’s up to you. Then if its all day, vo right and check the check box with vo space.
To set the start date, vo right again until you hear the date and interact. You have to use VO and not just the arrow keys here otherwise setting the date does not work. So VO and change the dates as follows.
Year. [to change use VO up and down]
Month: [again VO-up/down]
Day: [VO-up/down to change day]
Next you change the time in the same way. Once you’ve finished stop interacting and move over with VO to set an end day and time if necessary in the same fashion by interacting, VO to the left or right to set each field and use Up or down to change the field. Think of it like a table. You VO across to highlight the year/month/day/hour/minute/Am or PM and then you move the increments with your VO–UP/Down. I guess it looks a little like a graph for those mathematics out there.

the next selection you can make is the time zone. Mostly this would be left at the default which would be your local mac’s time.
Then it’s the repeat option.
VO-space to open the pop up menu and select at your own preference.
Then if its repeated the next field is when you want the repetition to end. vo-space to select this.
Our next field is show As which will display if you’re free or busy at this time. VO-space to change the setting with the pop up menu.
Then if you haven’t selected which calendar you wanted to select you can do it here, whether its work/home/school. It’s another pop up menu so go ahead and use VO-space to open the menu and vo-up/down to change your setting.
You can set an alarm next. Default Ical sets a message with alert but you can set an email if you prefer.
The next field will be when you want your alarm to go off if you have set one. This is just a text edit box to put the number of hours or minutes, days. The next pop up is minutes/hours/days.
You can then set a second alarm if you like so if you want an email reminded and an alert sound at different times you can set a second alarm next in the same way as you did previously.
The next field is invitees so if you want to invite friends to your event you can hit the button and it will give you the option to do this.
You can then add a file if you desire. [I’ve not used this feature so I cannot give guidance here]
Url and notes are the final two fields and are both text areas.

Once you’ve edited the information stop interacting with the events scroll area and VO-right and hit done. If your event changes then highlight it in the calendar scroll area and hit cmd-E to edit and do it in the same way I just demonstrated.

You can get the entire information of your event by highlighting it in the canvas scroll area and hitting CMD-I.

The important thing to remember in this app is to use VO as much as possible and the app will work for you very well.

To delete an event.
Highlight the calendar you want to view in the calendar table and then vo-right and interact with the calendar canvas. Highlight the event and hit backspace. If the wrong month is in view, hit cmd-left/right arrow and it will take you to the previous or next months.

Anticipating The Big Bite?

January 25, 2010

And it is that time of the year again where we anticipate what Mr Jobbs and his buddies over at Apple have cooked up for us. As usual the rumour mill has been filled with all kinds of teasers and the grand unveiling is two days away but I had to report what I’ve learnt.

There is a rumour of an Apple tablet. a device that is somewhere in between a computer and a smart phone, all touch screen. But along with this piece of information, Sky News today reported that Apple are supposedly in talks with publishers, magazines and news Papers to allow the new Tablet to become some kind of reading device on the go. This of course is not new in itself but what is potentially interesting is the potential for Apple’s increasing scores of Visually impaired and Dyslexic users.

If as Sky News predict, and Apple are in talks and continue their dedication to their own policy of universal access then this could mean that books, news papers and magazines would be as readily available to not just their sighted users but to all of their users.

As a student, I really hope for this tablet to be three things.
1. accessible
2. the ability to buy and read books with voice over.
3. Relatively affordable.

If Apple can pull this off, surely some of the educational hypocrites could change their attitudes. But as I just told someone on Twitter never get complacent.

I hope for all of these things and would be shocked and very disappointed if the tablet isn’t in the least accessible to Voice Over users. So we will see.

Other trinkets of goodies may include an Iphone 4.0 update. That may be very interesting. Wish they’d sort the battery lives out, seriously. I’m tired of charging mine. And I personally suspect a new shuffle but we will see.

I’ll update when I know more.
Later Apple heads!

My Apple Mac

December 19, 2009

With all the choices on the computer market nowadays, the general consumer has more choice than ever before. However, as a visually impaired user, the only option I want to have is mac and Apple products. Here’s why.

On Thursday, I turned my trusty macbook 13 inch, 2008 model white onto to check my email and such to discover it wouldn’t boot beyond the apple logo and timer thing. I was so upset. I love my macbook so much, it recently travelled to the US with me and if I don’t take the time to at least boot it once a day, I’m sick.

Anyway, I called Apple care and booked an appointment to see an Apple genius the next day. The problem I next had was that I had to pull out my old sony Vaio laptop that runs Windows XP and has a version of Jaws for windows running on it. It wasn’t a prospect I was looking forward too, let me tell you. Nevertheless, I loaded it up and encountered twitter issues with the program I have running on that laptop, then had issues setting up my gmail account in outlook express, followed by issues with not only importing music to itunes but getting the damn program to work correctly for me. I was still fighting with Itunes at lunchtime when I left to go to my apple appointment.

I never realized how counter-intuitive windows was, and I missed my specialized features that voice over on the mac offers, such as spelling as I type. I missed hearing, “misspelled” which happens frequently when I’m typing a lot. Itunes was a complete nightmare, how anyone uses that program on windows with a screen reader is beyond me. And the screen reader itself frustrated me beyond belief, freezing on several occasions, jumping on others, it was just a nightmare I do not want to repeat.

Hasten to add, my macbook was fixed and is happily being used again. I know some people prefer windows but for me, it is mac all the way. snow Leopard can keep purring happily inside my pretty white macbook with voice over being its Captain. ☺