THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

Backblaze

Astonishingly Easy And Unlimited Cloud Backup


Posts tagged with "iOS"

Apple Marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day by Announcing Upcoming Accessibility Features

Thursday is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. To mark the occasion, Apple has announced a long list of accessibility features coming to its products later this year and shared other ways it is celebrating the day through its apps and services.

Apple’s press release sums up the features coming to the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch as follows:

Using advancements across hardware, software, and machine learning, people who are blind or low vision can use their iPhone and iPad to navigate the last few feet to their destination with Door Detection; users with physical and motor disabilities who may rely on assistive features like Voice Control and Switch Control can fully control Apple Watch from their iPhone with Apple Watch Mirroring; and the Deaf and hard of hearing community can follow Live Captions on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple is also expanding support for its industry-leading screen reader VoiceOver with over 20 new languages and locales. These features will be available later this year with software updates across Apple platforms.

Door Detection will be part of the Magnifier app later this year. The feature helps blind and low vision users find and navigate doors when they arrive somewhere. The feature will judge the distance to the door using LiDAR, describe the door’s attributes, like whether it opens by pushing or using a doorknob, and read signs and symbols next to doors.

Apple Watch Mirroring.

Apple Watch Mirroring.

The Apple Watch will add several Physical and Motor accessibility features too. Apple Watch Mirroring, which is built on AirPlay in part, will allow users with physical and motor disabilities to control their Watches from an iPhone using Voice Control, Switch Control, voice commands, sound actions, head tracking, and Made for iPhone switches. The Apple Watch will also add a new double pinch gesture for controlling, like answering and ending phone calls and taking photos.

Apple Watch will add a new double pinch gesture.

Apple Watch will add a new double pinch gesture.

For Deaf and hard of hearing users, Apple will add Live Captions on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple says captioning will work with video calling apps like FaceTime, streaming video services, video conferencing apps, and in-person conversations. Live Captions occur on-device to preserve privacy, and on the Mac, users will be able to type a response that will be spoken aloud.

VoiceOver will get an update, too, adding the following languages:

  • Arabic (World)
  • Basque
  • Bengali (India)
  • Bhojpuri (India)
  • Bulgarian
  • Catalan
  • Croatian
  • Farsi
  • French (Belgium)
  • Galician
  • Kannada
  • Malay
  • Mandarin (Liaoning, Shaanxi, Sichuan)
  • Marathi
  • Shanghainese (China)
  • Spanish (Chile)
  • Slovenian
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Ukrainian
  • Valencian
  • Vietnamese

VoiceOver on the Mac will also gain Text Checker that will discover formatting issues.

Additional upcoming accessibility features.

Additional upcoming accessibility features.

Apple previewed several other upcoming accessibility features across its products, including:

  • Buddy Controller, the ability for someone to use a second game controller to assist with playing a game as though the two controllers were one
  • Siri Pause Time, which will allow users to customize the period Siri waits before responding to a user
  • Voice Control Spelling Mode, for dictating words letter-by-letter
  • Customizable sound recognition of the sounds in your environment
  • New themes and text adjustments in the Books app for a more accessible reading experience
Apple apps and services are celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day, too.

Apple apps and services are celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day, too.

Also, Apple has announced that Global Accessibility Awareness Day is being celebrated with Apple Store sessions, an Accessibility Assistant shortcut in the Shortcuts app, special Fitness+ sessions and Time to Walk or Push episodes, an accessibility-oriented Maps guide, and highlighted content on the App Store and in Apple Books Apple Podcasts, Apple Music and Apple TV.

We’ve seen Apple announce accessibility features coming to future versions of its OSes before, but today’s announcement is unique given the number of features revealed. I’m eager to try these features out. Based on what Apple has said, there seems to be a lot here that will make meaningful impacts on a lot of users’ everyday lives.


Runestone: A Streamlined Text and Code Editor for iPhone and iPad

Runestone is the latest app from Simon Støvring, the developer behind Scriptable, Jayson, and Data Jar. Støvring’s apps tend to be focused on developer or automation use cases, filling holes in the iOS and iPadOS ecosystem to aid power users. Runestone mostly falls into the same category, although it also has some wider potential appeal for general purpose writing.

The new app functions as an excellent plain text editor for anyone who needs to write on their iPhone or iPad. It’s simple and thoughtfully designed, and includes a variety of excellent themes to improve your writing experience. Runestone’s marquee feature, however, is its syntax highlighting. For Markdown writers, the app will use simple color schemes (which can be altered to your liking using the theme settings) and subtle style changes to highlight your links, bold and italic words, footnotes, and more. The result is a very simple, essentially plain-text approach which still makes it easy to see your markup at a glance.

Read more


Automation April: 10 Shortcuts for Discord, Photos, Finder and Files, Tot, Weather Forecasts, and More

All the shortcuts I created for Automation April this month.

All the shortcuts I created for Automation April this month.

It’s the final week of Automation April, and before we get into the details of the final batch of 10 shortcuts I’ve prepared for this week, I just want to express my gratitude toward all readers – old and new – who checked out MacStories this month, entered the contest, or signed up for Club MacStories. The response to Automation April has exceeded our most optimistic expectations: we received over 200 shortcut submissions for the contest, which is why we’re taking a few extra days to sift through all of them before; look for an official announcement of all the winners next week.

For this final group of 10 shortcuts, I’ve assembled another pretty diverse list of utilities for iPhone, iPad, and Mac that integrate with different parts of Apple’s operating systems. There’s a shortcut that automatically deletes old files from Finder or the Files app; another that finds the unique identifier of a specific task in the Reminders app; there’s a shortcut that gives you a weather report for the location of an upcoming event in your calendar. In case you missed the previous collections of shortcuts, you can find them here and here.

So, with Automation April coming to a close, let’s dive in one last time and check out the details of the shortcuts I’m sharing this week.

Read more


Knotwords: A New Word Game From Zach Gage and Jack Schlesinger

Knotwords is a deceptively simple new game from Zach Gage and Jack Schlessinger that combines elements of multiple word and logic puzzles into a unique, fun experience.

Each puzzle is composed of a set of squares that are divided into sections. Letters in the corner of a section establish which letters can be placed in that section of the puzzle. The goal is to arrange the letters, so they spell words vertically and horizontally throughout the puzzle. If that sounds simple, it is, but like any good game, just because the rules are easy to grasp doesn’t mean the game itself is easy.

As you explore and test solutions in Knotwords, the available letters are highlighted on a keyboard at the bottom of the screen, making it easy to tell which letters remain available to play. Once a row has been filled with letters horizontally or vertically, Knotwords will let you know if your letters are out of place by scratching out the letters in pink.

Like Sudoku, solving words makes each puzzle progressively easier by eliminating the number of possible letters that can be placed in open squares. It’s a dynamic that helps ease the frustration of getting stuck on one part of a puzzle because focusing your efforts elsewhere often leads to a breakthrough in an area where you were having trouble. There’s also a built-in hint system featuring the game’s rabbit mascot, who dispenses hints in the form of definitions of words instead of the answers themselves. Also, on iOS, the game includes an upbeat soundtrack with a jazzy lounge music vibe and generous use of haptic feedback, both of which add to the overall experience.

I’m a big fan of logic puzzles like Knotwords. They’re an excellent way to unwind by concentrating on something that isn’t your work or something else that might be on your mind. Knotwords fits that role perfectly by being easy to learn and play but challenging to solve and unique. The experience is a little like doing a crossword puzzle without the clues. It’s a combination that I love, so I plan to make Knotwords a regular part of my downtime this summer.

In addition to iOS and iPadOS, Knotwords is available on Android, the Mac, and PC. The game is free to download on the App Store and includes a core set of puzzles, but for $4.99/year or a one-time payment of $11.99, you can unlock more puzzlebook puzzles each month, a daily Twist puzzle, additional hints, statistics, and color themes.


Automation April: Processing Tot Dots with Shortcuts

I’ve used Tot by The Iconfactory on and off since it was released in 2020 and reviewed by Federico, but it never stuck. I never came up with a system for using the app that fits well with how I work. Instead, I would simply dump text and URLs copied from the web or jot notes to myself haphazardly in any of the app’s seven colorful dots. The trouble was that when I went back to the app to find something, I often found myself clicking and scrolling around a lot to find what I wanted.

With the introduction of Tot’s Shortcuts support, I immediately saw an opportunity to process Tot’s dots in ways that would make the app fit better with the way I use it. I still don’t have a system for the app’s seven dots. Instead, I’ve got a shortcut called Tot Dot Review that lets me parse and process Tot’s dots in several different ways that shows off Tot’s shortcuts actions along with a handful of built-in Shortcuts actions for extracting different types of data from text.

Tot Dot Review lets me quickly pull URLs, Apple Maps URLs, addresses, phone numbers, and dates from my Tot notes without skimming through each of the app’s seven notes. I can also copy Tot’s notes into Markdown-formatted text that I can copy and paste into another app for processing and delete the content of all seven Tot notes, so I can start fresh. The combination of options has made it easier to find and manage things in Tot, which has led me to use the app more too.

Read more


Sofa 3.3 Adds Extensive Customization Options

Sofa 3.3, the media organizer app for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, is out, and the update is all about customization. If you haven’t tried Sofa before, check out our recent coverage of the app, which was a runner-up for the MacStories Selects awards in the Best App Update category last year. The update includes a long list of ways to personalize Sofa, which are best shown off by showing you what’s possible, so let’s update the list of books I’ve got in Sofa.

Read more


Automation April: 10 Shortcuts for Mac Multitasking, Markdown, Reminders, Music Lyrics, Twitter, and More

10 shortcuts for Automation April.

10 shortcuts for Automation April.

Automation April is well underway: we’ve entered the second week of our month-long special event about automation on Apple platforms, and – in case you haven’t noticed – things are happening everywhere. We’ve published Shortcuts-focused articles on MacStories; interviewed developers of Shortcuts-compatible apps on AppStories; we’ve hosted a Town Hall Workshop on our Discord along with giveaways. And, of course, our panel of judges is now busy testing and evaluating shortcuts submitted by people for the Automation April Shortcuts Contest. If you haven’t yet, now would be a great time to start following @AutomationApril on Twitter to keep up with everything we’re doing.

Last week, I shared an initial batch of 10 shortcuts I prepared for Automation April here on MacStories. I’m back this week with another set of 10 shortcuts that encompass a variety of platforms, app integrations, and functionalities. In this week’s collection, you’ll find even more shortcuts to speed up macOS multitasking; a shortcut that makes it easy to create a calendar event starting from a date; there will be a couple of shortcuts for Markdown and Obsidian users too.

I’m having a lot of fun sharing these sets of shortcuts for Automation April. So once again, let’s dive in.

Read more


CARROT Weather 5.6 Adds Locations Lists, New Layout Sections, and More

CARROT Weather 5.6 is out today with a handful of excellent new features that pick up where previous updates have left off, with more ways to customize the app and make it your own.

My favorite new feature is Locations Lists. From CARROT Weather’s Locations tab, you can search for the weather in any city you like. That works well for one-off checks of conditions somewhere else, and CARROT saves your most recent searches at the bottom of the Locations tab making it easy to rerun a search. Locations can also be saved as favorites.

Setting up forecasts for multiple locations.

Setting up forecasts for multiple locations.

Location Lists extend CARROT Weather’s location-based functionality further by letting you go beyond a simple list of favorite locations. Tap the Info button next to a place you’ve marked as a favorite, and you can choose to ‘Show Forecast in Locations List.’ Doing so opens up additional options, including an hourly or daily forecast, a chart or stack layout, and a choice from among many data points to highlight alongside the forecast. Once a location has been set up the way you want, you’ll see a card-like UI for each city you’ve added with the data you’ve chosen. Whether you’re keeping tabs on a destination for an upcoming trip or just want to know if the weather is nice where a friend or family member lives, the new Locations List provides an excellent overview without requiring you to tap into the details of each city. In the future, I’d love to see Location List forecasts added to CARROT Weather’s set of Home Screen widgets.

CARROT's tab bar is fully-customizable.

CARROT’s tab bar is fully-customizable.

I used to hide CARROT Weather’s tab bar, but the new Locations List has given me a reason to keep it visible, making it easier to access my favorite locations and features like the app’s weather maps. The tab bar is now customizable, so you only need to display the tabs you use in the order you prefer. Just visit the Layout settings and choose Arrange Tab Bar to customize it.

CARROT Weather 5.6 introduces new Solar, Moon, Air Quality, Pollen, and Tide sections.

CARROT Weather 5.6 introduces new Solar, Moon, Air Quality, Pollen, and Tide sections.

CARROT Weather’s Layout sections continue to expand with version 5.6 too. The latest update includes Solar, Moon, Air Quality, Pollen, and Tide sections. CARROT Weather already offered ways to surface the information in these new sections as data points. However, with the new Layout sections, you get more detailed and glanceable information than before.

When the weather is bad in Chicago, I look north to feel better.

When the weather is bad in Chicago, I look north to feel better.

The maps and radar functionality have also been expanded. Maps now show when a wintery mix of precipitation is falling. Fortunately, we’re nearing the end of that kind of weather in the Chicago area, so I haven’t seen a wintery mix in CARROT’s weather map here. However, the good people of Wisconsin and Michigan are enjoying a bright pink wintery mix this morning, so you can see what that looks like in the screenshot above. The radar feature also reports hail and debris from tornados that are detected, which I’d prefer not to see any time soon, but I’m also glad it’s available.

With the latest update, I’ve added daily forecasts to my Locations List for the cities where my kids live. I’ve also added Pollen and Air Quality sections to my weather layout, which will be handy as the weather warms up and I head outside more. I’ve also simplified my tab bar to mirror how I use the app, which makes one-handed use easier.

It’s remarkable how much customization is now available in CARROT Weather. Version 5.0 was a big leap forward, but Brian Mueller has continued to refine the app and add new and interesting options that have taken the app’s personalization to a new level that I love.

CARROT Weather is available as a free update on the App Store. The app offers multiple subscription tiers, with different features at each level, which you can read more about in the app’s Settings.


Overcast Redesign Enhances Podcast Navigation with an Emphasis on Playlists and Recent Episodes

I’ve used a lot of different podcast apps over the years, but the one I return to most often and have used the most is Overcast by Marco Arment. The app’s customizability, Smart Speed and Voice Boost audio enhancement technologies, and Shortcuts support are unrivaled among podcast players. I also appreciate that when episodes of the shows I love are published, they usually appear in Overcast first.

Read more