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iA Cast iA Cast Weekly

#iACast 140 – Staying Productive In The New Year

Show Description

On this episode, Michael, Aleeha, Leslie, and Jason discuss apps that help them stay fit, productive, and safe online, as we enter the new decade. To that end, if you’re interested to see if any accounts have been hacked, you can visit Have I been pwned. Just enter your email address, and hit the “Powned?” Button.

News

The coronavirus is upending the tech industry’s supply chain, affecting the ability of companies such as Apple, to keep up with consumer demand.

Picks

Aleeha: AirPods Pro

Leslie: A Blight of Blackwings by Kevin Hearne

Jason: Locke And Key

Michael: [Incase compact nylon sleeve](https://www.apple.com/shop/product/HNQ32ZM/A/incase-compact-sleeve-in-flight-nylon-for-16-macbook-pro-and-15-macbook-pro?fnode=9e&fs=fh%3D4598%252B4c0f)
Providing Feedback

We love hearing from you, so feel free to send an email to feedback@iaccessibility.net. You can follow us on Facebook, and Twitter. You can also find us on Reddit, and all around the web. Also, don’t forget to check out our YouTube page, and for all things iACast, check out our iACast page. If you’d like to help support us, you can do so via our PayPal and Patreon pages. If you wish to interact with us during our podcasts live then please do join us on our Slack channel.

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New Features in macOS 10.14 Mojave

MacOS 10.14 Mojave has been in the wild for quite some time, but we felt that it still bears discussion, as it comes with a few changes that will change how we view the Mac ecosystem.

Features

There are several features in macOS Mojave; however, only a few of these will be discussed. In this article, we will focus on the significant features that will keep changing in the future.

Dark Mode

MacOS 10.14 brings dark mode to the Mac, which allows applications to show content with a dark theme. This is different from smart invert for iOS as it only changes the interface and text colors. The one drawback to this is that developers must enable dark mode in their applications and it does not work out of the box.

Dynamic Desktops

One feature worth mentioning is Dynamic Desktops. Dynamic Desktops are modified desktops that can change based on certain conditions. Right now, this means that the desktop can change based on the time of day, so you can have a lighter background and skin while it is bright outside, or you may have a darker background with dark mode enabled at night. This is really useful if you would like to adjust your working environment based on the time of day.

Desktop Stacks

So, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could make a stack of items on your desktop instead of just in the Dock? Well, you can now! Mojave supports the ability to make stacks on your desktop.

Continuity Camera

macOS Mojave allows you to take pictures with your iPhone or iPad and have that picture go directly to your Mac. One issue that users have found is that the phone can not have personal hotspot enabled when this is used.

Mac App Store

The Mac App store received a full redesign this year, with an all new interface.

iOS Apps On The Mac

An ongoing project was started in 2018 to allow iOS apps work on the Mac. This is a huge change for the Mac, as it allows iOS developers to run their apps on the Mac. Unfortunately, this feature is only enabled in certain apps from Apple like Home, News, Stocks, and Voice Memos. Apple has stated that they would be bringing more support to iOS apps on the Mac in 2019.

Accessibility Improvements

VoiceOver and Zoom did not receive much of a noticeable update this year, but there have been obvious under the hood changes to VoiceOver to support the new iOS apps that have been added to the Mac. We noticed these changes throughout the Mojave beta process.

Conclusion

While Mojave has not seen the most accessibility updates, it surely has several updates to pay attention to, and lets be honest, Dark Mode is a great feature for low vision users if the brightness of the screen is too much or if the added contrast helps you read the interface easier.

MacOS Mojave has set the stage for future versions of macOS, but we will definately see even more changes to the OS later this year when we receive macOS 10.15.

 

Let us know what your thoughts are about macOS by emailing us at feedback@iaccessibility.net

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Twitterrific Keystrokes for iOS and Mac

Iconfactory has created one of the best applications for using Twitter for iOS and macOS, and they have also created an amazing set of keystrokes for users who like to navigate applications with the keyboard. Below is a link to Iconfactory’s list of keystrokes that you can use to navigate the Twitterrific application.

Twitterrific Keystrokes for iOS and macOS

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iA Cast

#iACast – WWDC 2018 Coverage

On this #iACast special, Aleeha, Jason, Allison, Aaron and Matt, with contributions from Meaghan and Michael, voice our thoughts and Opinions on what Apple announced at it’s WWDC 2018 Keynote.

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iA Cast iA DemoCast

iA Democast 12: Twitterriffic 5 for Mac

On this episode of the iA DemoCast, Matt Dierckens demonstrates Twitterriffic 5 for Mac, which brings accessible Twitter features to macOS.

Twitterrific 5 for Twitter on the App Store – iTunes – Apple

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What’s New in VoiceOver for macOS High Sierra

On September 25, 2017, Apple released macOS High Sierra to the public. Here are some new enhancements to VoiceOver.

Enhanced Multilingual Support

If VoiceOver detects that a language has been associated with text that it’s reading, it Will automatically switch to another voice and will read the text in that language. You can set the voice VoiceOver uses for different languages in VoiceOver Utility. For example, if you were to add the Spanish language and set a voice for it, VoiceOver will then use that Spanish voice to read text that has been tagged as Spanish for screen readers.

Image Descriptions

VoiceOver can describe images, just like it does in iOS. To do this, press VO (Control plus option or caps lock, depending on how you have the VoiceOver modifier set) + Shift + L when focus is placed on an image.

Improved Grade 2 Braille Experience

VoiceOver provides a more seamless Braille experience when you are working with text and using Grade 2 Braille. For example, your Braille display now shows “the context of what you’re typing,” and when you edit text, it is no longer translated back into Grade 1 Braille.

Improved Web and Email Navigation

VoiceOver  navigation is more consistent and reliable when navigating webpages in Safari. VoiceOver has better support for navigating tables in richly formatted email messages in mail.

Improved PDF Accessibility

VoiceOver has better support for reading tables, lists, and forms in tagged PDF documents.

Let us know if you’ve discovered anything else new.

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Bring Your Adventures to the Mac

Everyone likes games, and when gaming is accessible they are even better. MUDs have been an accessible way for people to play games online with friends for a long time, but there has been a lack of accessible MUD clients for the Mac. This week, iAccessibility is proud to announce that there is now a MUD client that everyone can use and it works on the Mac. Yesterday, iAccessibility released MUDAbility a low priced MUD client for macOS that works with or without VoiceOver. While this is the first release, we plan to update the app frequently and often to give you the most features possible. Our plan is to have it ready for the Mac App Store soon. If you are interested then head over to http://iaccessibility.net/downloads/mudability-accessible-mud-client-for-macos/

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iA Cast iA Cast Weekly

#iACast 44 #WWDC17 After Party

On this episode of the iA Cast Aleeha, Michael, Jason, Aaron and T. J. discuss the latest news from Apple’s yearly WWDC conference. Here is what was covered in the episode.

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What the iA staff would like to see from #WWDC17

Each year, Apple announces their latest software at their Worldwide Developer Conference, and WWDC 2017 starts today. the management staff here at iAccessibility has written down what they would like to see, and is written below.

Matt’s wishlist

Monday, June 5 is Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) where we will most likely see some new hardware and software. Here are a few of my hopes for tomorrow’s conference announcements.
iOS

  1. Updated Braille translation support – I should be able to type quickly on my Braille display without waiting for the operating system/display to sync with each other.
  2. Siri – Hopefully in iOS 11, Siri will be able to support more third party applications with Siri kit. I would love to be able to say, “Hey Siri, Play podcasts with Overcast,” or, “Hey Siri, play my Audible Book.” Also, while using Hey Siri, you should be able to continue to speak to Siri after you’ve asked it a question. This should be true for which ever device, especially if the rumour is true about Apple releasing a Siri speaker.

MacOS

  1. No more lag — personally, there shouldn’t be any lag when moving with VO, whether it be in Safari, Pages or Textedit. At the moment there is also a lag when switching activities with both apple voices and Vocalizer voices.
  2. “Hey Siri,” – Apple is always about the “universal experience across devices.” Hopefully in the next version of both MacOS and TVOS we see “hey Siri” added.

These are just a few things I would love to see at today’s event. It will be great to see what’s added in the upcoming operating systems.

Jason’s Wishlist

As we all know, Apple’s WWDC conference is happening on June fifth. Here are some things I’d like to see.

iOS

I’d like to see Apple put the “Pro” into iPad Pro. From Apple’s website: “iPad Pro is more than the next generation of iPad — it’s an uncompromising vision of personal computing for the modern world. It puts incredible power that leaps past most portable PCs at your fingertips. It makes even complex work as natural as touching, swiping, or writing with a pencil. And whether you choose the 12.9-inch model or the 9.7-inch model, iPad Pro is more capable, versatile, and portable than anything that’s come before. In a word, super.”

For me, two things come to mind that would make the iPad “super.” 1. Finder for iOS, and 2. xCode for iOS. If apple wants the iPad Pro to be an “uncompromising vision of personal computing,” adding those two features to iOS would, I think, really help Apple meet that goal.

Siri

I’d like to see Siri get smarter, and more capable.

More app categories being added to Siri kit would be nice, especially if Apple is indeed going to announce a Siri speaker.

I think Siri needs to have a more natural conversation stile than it currently does, and that stile should be hands-free. We can already say something like “Hey Siri. What’s the weather?” And it’ll respond. But if you want to ask something else, you would keep having to say “Hey Siri.”

Maybe Siri could listen for a couple seconds to see if you have something else to ask before waiting for the “Hey Siri” command again?

I can already see a downside to my idea, but it leads me to the last thing I’d like to see for Siri, and that would be to improve Siri’s ability to only respond to your specific voice.

Conclusion

These are just a few things I’d like to see announced at WWDC. Will they happen? Well, all I can say is it’s going to be fun to watch it and find out.

Michael’s Wishlist

WWDC is one of my favorite announcements of the year, and I can’t wait to see what Apple brings us today. There is so many things that I would like to see them release today, so I will separate them out by OS.

iOS

  1. I have to agree with what Jason said about the iPad Pro. I would really like to see this become more of a Pro device for dev and others.
  2. I would like to see a full file system come to iOS
  3. I would like to see full audio support come to iOS where multiple media types can play at the same time, so I could have TeamTalk and music playing at the same time, or have recording from multiple inputs work.
  4. Better support for Siri to learn new skills
  5. Removal of Apple Music Cache files. You can do this on Android, so iOS should have this as well.
  6. less use of iTunes to get items like Ringtones on your device.

macOS

  1. Support for, “Hey Siri”
  2. Support for touch screen macs

WatchOS

  1. Allow the watch to unpaid and pair with different phones.
  2. Speed improvements
  3. Siri Improvements

Windows

  1. Support for iMessage for Windows

Android

  1. Support for iMessage
  2. Support for Apple Watch
  3. iCloud contacts and sync for Android

While I am sure much of my list will not be on the list for today’s event I can hope that some things will make it to reality.

Conclusion

I think our team has put together some awesome ideas of things we would like to see today at WWDC, and we will see what we get in an hour.

WWDC 2017 – Apple

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iA Cast iA Cast Weekly

#iACast 33 – DemoCast 1: Software Updates on macOS Sierra

Welcome to the very first iA DemoCast! In this episode, Matt Dierckens will walk you through updating software on macOS Sierra, using Apple’s built-in screen reader, VoiceOver. We hope you find this demonstration useful; if you have topics you would like to see covered on the DemoCast, please let us know! As always, thank you for listening!

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Product Review: Apple AirPods

When preorders went live for Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, I acted fast! I knew I wouldn’t miss the headphone jack, because removing it would pave the way for more advancements in technology. With this in mind, it is no surprise that I was also among the first to order Apple’s new AirPods! I received them on Monday, December 19 – 2 days before the original estimate! I excitedly unboxed them, and paired them. Now that I have had some time to test functionality, here is my impressions and review.

What’s in the box?

  • The AirPods in their Charging Case
  • Documentation
  • Lightning Cable

Note: The box is shrink wrapped, unlike some newer products from Apple. Also, the box has a tactile image of the AirPods, which is something I always enjoy.

Setup

As many other reviews point out, pairing the AirPods with an iPhone or iPad is quick, painless, and somewhat magical. Simply open the lid of the case while it’s near your device, and an interface similar to Control Center will appear, asking you to connect. Once paired, you can see the battery level of the case and the AirPods themselves. Now, not only are your AirPods paired with the device you’re using, but they are also paired with all other devices connected to your iCloud account. The only omission, at least for now, is the Apple TV. The reasoning for this is that the Apple TV is generally a shared device, so the AirPods must be paired like traditional bluetooth devices. Hopefully this will change soon!

Pairing with traditional bluetooth devices is made possible with a pairing button located on the back of the AirPods case. This button also allows you to reset the AirPods, if you need to start the pairing process over like I did.

Wait, it wasn’t a seamless experience?

Well, it would have been, had I not been on a phone call at the time of initial pairing. Sound quality seemed strange to me, and I could not get the AirPods to show up on other devices. Initially, I went to Settings > Bluetooth, and forgot “Yessie’s AirPods,” but the next time I tried to pair them, the panel said, “Not your AirPods.” I could have connected anyway, but I wanted to have the experience Apple intended. So, I reset the AirPods.

To complete a reset, open the case (with the AirPods inside) and hold down the pairing button for 15 seconds. Then, the interface I mentioned above should appear. From there, it’s smooth sailing.

Look and Feel

Apple is going wireless, and the AirPods show it off beautifully. If you are used to traditional Apple headphones, these will be an easy adjustment for you, as the AirPods are simply a pair of EarPods with the cables cut off. They look and feel almost exactly the same. Even if the EarPods fall out of your ears, these may not. As it turns out, one major reason EarPods fall out of people’s ears is because of the cables. Who knew? Personally, I never had issues with EarPods staying in my ears, and this remains true for the AirPods. I did, however, have a scary moment where one fell out of my ear while doing house work. I would advise extra caution around trash receptacles or anything with a drain, especially for us low vision and blind folks.

Connectivity

The AirPods link together using Apple’s new W1 chip, and maintain two simultaneous bluetooth connections to your device. They remain perfectly in sync, which is really magical. The AirPods are said to have bluetooth 4 with some “special sauce,” but all that matters is that it seems to work really well. They have improved range compared to other bluetooth devices, and they have less audio imperfections. This is great, because for them to be worthwhile, these need to rival the usefulness of traditional or lightning headphones. In my testing, I would compare the range of the AirPods to that of my wireless, not bluetooth, headset with a USB receiver. I am very impressed, and I have not experienced any disconnections, like with traditional bluetooth audio devices.

Functionality

The AirPods can be charged from 0% to 100% in just 30 minutes, and each AirPod can last 5 hours on a single charge, or 2 hours of talk time. The case provides 24 hours of charge, which means these should easily get you through any long commute, or multiple short commutes with no need for lightning cables. When the case does need to be charged, you can easily do so with the included lightning cable, or one of the many others you undoubtedly have lying around. If you ever find yourself in a hurry, a quick 15-minute charge in the case provides the AirPods with 3 hours of listening time, or 1 hour of talk time. You can quickly check the charge of the AirPods, as well as the case with the same interface that pops up when you open the lid. When both AirPods are in the case, they’re listed as “AirPods: X%.” When one is removed, however, they show up as their separate left and right channels respectively. Additionally, you can check the level of your AirPods while you’re using them in the Batteries Widget on your iPhone. It will even tell you if you are using the left or right AirPod, which is a nice touch.

The AirPods can be used independently as a mono headphone, or together as a stereo pair. Switching between mono and stereo audio works really well in my testing. Just take one out of the case, and put it in your ear. You’ll hear it connect, and you can immediately start playing audio. As soon as you remove the second AirPod from the case, it will begin playing audio and you can put it in your ear for a great stereo sound. Removing either one will pause the audio, and you can press play again to continue playing in mono, or put the other headphone in your ear to continue listening in stereo. I love this feature, as it makes it very easy to quickly hold a conversation with someone without the distraction of audio playing in your headphones. Note: You can change any of these behaviors in Bluetooth settings, and even rename the AirPods.

Seamless Switching

On a recent podcast, I mentioned how I love my Plantronics Voyager Edge for its ability to maintain a simultaneous connection to both my iPhone and Apple Watch, and to switch between them as needed. The AirPods are advertised to do the same, without the need to manually pair to each device. However, in my testing, this has been far from consistent.

The AirPods refused to appear as an audio option on my Apple Watch until I restarted. Once I did, the watch connected to them and VoiceOver’s audio came through the AirPods instead of the watch. However, once I switched back to my phone, and tried switching back to the watch, I was unable to get audio to go through the AirPods again. Attempts to connect through Control Center on the watch often failed, which is a huge disappointment.

Additionally, I noticed that with only VoiceOver running, the AirPods would lose connection to my phone when I set it down. I would have to go to Control Center and remind them that they were supposed to be connected. This is also disappointing.

Music Playback

Music playback with the iPhone works really well. It sounds great – slightly better than the EarPods. I can definitely see myself using these quite a bit for listening to music on the go. My only problem? Siri is not a good replacement for actual buttons. I would like volume controls, and a way to skip tracks. Right now, you can only play/pause, and activate Siri by tapping the AirPods. What’s worse is that you have to tap really hard for Siri to activate, and it’s hard to know exactly where to tap. I’m hoping this will get easier with time, but it would be nice if Apple would give us some additional controls for music playback.

VoiceOver Latency?

Admittedly, I am not the best judge of latency, seeing as how I don’t continuously use VoiceOver. However, I will say that when paired with an iPhone, the AirPods are very responsive. I don’t notice much lag at all when typing long messages, or using VoiceOver. Is it as good as wired headphones? I don’t think so, but each person will form their individual opinion about latency. I’ve heard everything from, there’s no latency, to VoiceOver is very sluggish. There are also many factors to keep in mind when testing latency – the device used for testing and the particular use case are two examples of this.

I would also like to point out that MacBooks before 2015 are not setup to support newer standards of bluetooth, so latency is much worse on those machines. Additionally, they do not support wide-band audio, so any calls will have very poor audio quality. This is not the fault of the AirPods.

Conclusion

Apple’s long-awaited AirPods are finally here, bringing with them the wireless future Apple promised! At $159, the price is cheaper than most comparable wireless earbuds, and the functionality is much improved. Of course, this is more true for those of us in the Apple ecosystem, and who interact with Apple devices on a daily basis. If you are an Android user, for example, there are probably better options available for purchase. If you don’t plan to use these with an iPhone, iPod, iPad, or Apple Watch, I would recommend looking elsewhere. I have had a few issues with AirPods when it comes to switching between devices and with losing connection when no audio is being streamed, which is disappointing. However, I feel most of this is caused by long-standing bugs with Bluetooth in iOS, which will hopefully receive more attention now and actually get fixed. As for the AirPods themselves, future updates may include additional functionality – I am hoping for more music controls. With all this said, I believe the AirPods are a great first-generation product. There is room for improvement, but software updates should do the trick! I recommend these to any iOS user who is searching for well-integrated truly wireless earbuds. Embrace the wireless future with me, won’t you?

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Accessible Gaming: Mac Vs Windows

Gaming has been a huge portion of technology since the 1980s, and there has really not been a focus on if low vision gamers could play video games or read text. Now, with built in magnification between operating systems low vision users can finally customize their systems so that text can be read and games can be played, but what OS provides the best experience for gamers who use magnification.

Windows Magnification

Windows Magnifier has greatly improved over the last few versions of Windows and keeps getting better in Windows 10. You can now magnify in full screen on the Windows Desktop, and in some graphical applications. This will also work while in games, but it will not work in many games that run in full screen. If Magnifier is open and zoomed in while games are open then many games will not function properly.

MacOS Magnification

Zoom on the Mac has been on the Mac for around 10 years and has not had the need to change in that time. Zoom has been the first Desktop magnification solution to allow for full screen and lens style magnification, and it works well in desktop applications and in graphical apps. The really impressive feature of Zoom is that it will work within games that run on the same resolution as the Mac with very minimal effects to performance.

Conclusion

While I prefer the gaming experience that is provided on the Mac, there are still more games available on Windows than there are on the Mac, so the choice of which OS to use as a primary gaming platform will still have to be Windows for the choice of games. The good aspect that Steam provides is that you can buy games from Steam and get the game for both Windows and MacOS.