VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader that lets you enjoy the fun and simplicity of iOS even if you can’t see the screen. With VoiceOver enabled, just triple-click the Home button (or the side button on iPhone X and later) to access it. This feature is incredibly useful for visually impaired users. It describes exactly what happens on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, or Apple TV, so you can navigate just by listening. Apple’s VoiceOver is the world’s first gesture-based screen reader, and it’s a revolution in accessibility.
The Magnifier works like a digital magnifying glass. It uses the camera on your iPhone to increase the size of anything you point it at, so you can see the details more clearly. This feature is especially useful for people with low vision. It can help with everyday tasks like reading small print or seeing details on an object. The Magnifier can be customized to suit individual needs, with options to adjust brightness, contrast, and apply color filters.
Live Listen can help you hear a conversation in a noisy room or hear someone speaking across the room. You can use your iPhone as a remote microphone that sends sound to your Made for iPhone hearing aid. Live Listen is a game-changer for people with hearing impairments. It can make it easier to have conversations in noisy environments by amplifying the sound you want to hear.
The Impact of iPhone Apps on Everyday Life
There are countless stories of how iPhone’s accessibility features have made daily tasks easier for people with disabilities. For instance, a visually impaired user might use VoiceOverto read emails, navigate through apps, or even write a document. A user with a hearing impairment might use Live Listen during a meeting or in a crowded restaurant to focus on the conversation they want to hear. For someone with motor impairments, the AssistiveTouch feature allows them to use their iPhone even if they have difficulty touching the screen or pressing the buttons. These are just a few examples of how these features can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities.
According to a survey by the American Foundation for the Blind, 70% of respondents agreed that the iPhone’s accessibility features have made a significant positive impact on their lives. This is a testament to the effectiveness of these features. It’s not just about having accessibility features; it’s about how these features are implemented and how well they work in real-world scenarios. The high satisfaction rate among users indicates that iPhone’s accessibility features are not only well-designed but also highly functional.
The Future of Accessibility with iPhone
Apple continues to innovate in the field of accessibility. Future updates promise even more intuitive features. For instance, Apple is working on eye-tracking technology for hands-free control of the iPhone. This could be a game-changer for people with motor impairments. Also, improvements to VoiceOver functionality are on the horizon, with Apple planning to use machine learning to read and interpret even more complex data on the screen.
The Potential of iPhone Apps
The potential of iPhone apps for accessibility is vast. As developers continue to understand the needs of users with disabilities, we can expect to see more apps designed with accessibility in mind. This will further enhance the usability of the iPhone for everyone. For instance, we could see apps that use the iPhone’s sensors to provide more detailed environmental information for visually impaired users, or apps that use AI to transcribe conversations in real-time for hearing-impaired users.
The art of accessibility is about creating an inclusive world where everyone has equal access to information and services. iPhone apps are playing a crucial role in making this vision a reality. With their innovative accessibility features, these apps are not just making life easier for people with disabilities, but they’re also setting a standard for what accessibility in technology should look like. The iPhone is more than just a smartphone; it’s a tool that breaks down barriers and enables people of all abilities to communicate, learn, and engage with the world.
You know, the iOS App Store turned 12 years old recently, and while it’s a booming platform, not everybody is happy about it. In fact, the July, 2020 Antitrust Hearings kind of inspired me to look back on the history of the App Store. And I started thinking the App Store has had such a huge impact on a culture, not just on tech, but just everyone’s lives in general. So what would the world be like if the App Store never existed? Because there was a time where Steve Jobs was against the idea of users installing third-party native applications on their iPhone. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
At Macworld 2007, Steve Jobs went on stage and blew the audience’s minds away with the first iPhone introduction. The software was the big game changer. At WWDC 2007, after showing off the upcoming major release of Mac OS10, Leopard, Steve Jobs and announces one last thing. And that’s the development platform for the iPhone, but here’s the kicker. No SDK required. How are you supposed to write software for a new platform without a software development kit? Well, Apple’s vision was developers would write web applications, just using standard web technologies, and those apps would just run inside of the Safari web browser. By the way, the irony of this whole thing gets really juicy. But ultimately people were shocked by this announcement.
I actually spoke to someone who attended the keynote address. He said:
LOL. Yeah, it was shocking. The silence was palpable. My business partner at the time and I just looked at each other and were totally shell shocked as part of the reason we showed up was for the SDK info. It was almost like a member of the family died when he announced it.
So I think it was fair to say that people were disappointed by this announcement and sure you could still write those web apps using Web 2.0 technologies, AJAX, and those apps could tap into certain features on the phone, like the maps application. So that’s okay I guess, but it was still kind of limiting. Here’s where things get a little interesting.
In late 2011, a little while after Steve Jobs passed away, Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs was about to go on sale. It’s a good read. But one of the cool stories in it is about how Steve was opposed to the idea of third party native apps on the iPhone. So why? Why did Apple want to go this route? The main reason Jobs wanted to keep native third party apps off the phone was because he wanted to keep the iPhone safe and reliable. He wanted to protect the iPhone from viruses, malware, and privacy attacks. If Apple opened the flood gates, they would need to regulate it all somehow, IE with an app store, but according to Isaacson’s biography
Jobs at first quashed the discussion, partly because he felt his team did not have the bandwidth to figure out all of the complexities that would be involved in policing third party app developers.
Makes sense. The iPhone was projected to be a really big platform. There’s going to be a lot of attention coming to it. And if you don’t have any kind of regulation and people just throw out a bunch of apps you can install all of a sudden, well, the world is full of people that will take advantage of that. Users would just unknowingly install a bunch of crap that could invade their privacy or infect their data. It could be pretty nasty if it wasn’t a regulated. In an open letter, Steve backed up this thought saying that the iPhone would be a highly visible target, so it makes sense that Apple needs to keep it secure. So everything would run in the Safari engine, which is sandboxed and nothing inside that sandbox could ever leak out and affect other parts of the iPhone software. That was it. Those were the web apps. They kind of worked, but they weren’t the most convenient thing. I mean, you would still have to go to Safari every time you wanted to load something up. You would have that navigation bar up there most of the time, if not all the time, which I think kind of ruins the user experience just a little bit. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was better than nothing.
The web app experience was improved a little bit when Jobs introduced Web Clips at Macworld 2008. This feature let users add these web apps to their home screen, and this was also the first version of iOS, not called iOS at the time, which allowed home screen customization.
So there you go. Those are web apps. That was the vision for the iPhone. At the time, this was likely a stop gap solution. Remember that open letter I was talking about earlier? It also said, let me just say it. We want native third party applications on the iPhone. And we planned to have an SDK in developers hands in February. Was Apple secretly working on one this whole time? Possibly. Isaacson’s book goes on to say that Steve Jobs, even though he was initially against the idea of native third party applications, he said that Steve was more open to the idea every time the conversation came up. So it looked like third-party native apps were going to be the future of the iPhone on one big condition. The apps had to be regulated.
In March, Apple demoed the SDK and released it to developers. This meant developers didn’t need to make web apps anymore. And users didn’t need to run those apps in Safari. Devs could build native applications for the iPhone software, AKA iPhone OS, which was later named iOS. Some of the first demos included communication apps, medical apps, and games. Everything was looking really promising. But the big question was how do the apps get to the user? And that’s what brings us to what we’re talking about today. One hour, three minutes and 52 seconds into the March 6th event, Steve Jobs introduced the App Store.
The App Store was an ideal middle ground solution. It offered third party native apps to customers, but the iPhone could still stay protected and secure because the App Store helped regulate the quality control and the security of the software. But not only that, the App Store was also the fastest way for all of those developers to reach the millions of iPhone and iPod Touch users, and you could even potentially get funding with iFund. With all of those factors combined together, there was nothing else like it. It was the quickest solution to get your apps to many users super quickly.
At WWDC, 2008, Apple hosted training sessions to help developers get their apps ready for the App Store launch. And on July 10th, 2008, the App Store officially went live with over 500 apps. In 2010, the App Store launched on the iPad. In 2011, the App Store launched on the Mac, expanding its reach. And in June, by June, 2011, Apple had already paid out $2.5 billion to developers who sold and released their apps on the App Store. It exploded. The app store really took off. I know it’s not perfect. No platform is perfect. I can’t wave a magic wand and fix all the problems. It’s not my area of expertise. So I’m not going to pretend to know what the solution is to making everything perfect with the App Store. But on the positive side, the App Store has changed the world. How different would your life and the world be without those convenient apps just easily accessible and right there in your pocket?
One other thing I want to talk about really quick, and this is the irony that I was hinting at earlier. In 2007, 2008, we were using desktop native applications on our computers, right? And we were using web apps on the iPhone, but then as time went on, it’s like we shifted. We’re not using web apps on the phone anymore. We’re using native apps on the phone and on the computers, we’re using less native apps and more web based apps and web based apps that are software as a service. And even if you do install some native applications on your computer, like Slack or Discord, those apps are really just glorified web views, which, hey, it still works. No problem with that. I just find it amusing.
And the next shift going forward is hybridization. With the Apple ecosystem, you can already use Catalyst to modify an iOS application to run it on the Mac, And with Apple Silicon Max, you can just run iOS applications natively on your Mac without any modification. Heck, even Microsoft is working with Samsung to make Android apps, play more nicely and just integrate directly into Windows 10. And Microsoft has also had the Windows subsystem for Linux for a while where he could run Linux based programs on Windows. As time goes on, these platforms are becoming less siloed, and they’re turning into melting pots, really. So it’s going to be interesting to see where that goes.
Apple’s developer-focused WWDC 2021 event is just a day ahead, and rumours regarding the company’s plans have already begun to surface. Although we know that the Cupertino tech giant will showcase the next generations of its operating systems, including iOS 15, watchOS 8, tvOS 15, and macOS 12, there are still no complete information available.
According to a fresh leak, Apple may be planning to launch new apps for watchOS 8.
The App Store manifest has been updated, according to Developer Khaos Tian, and now includes references to various mystery app packages, including:
It’s worth noting that “Nano” usually refers to watchOS apps, implying that Tips and Contacts will be launched as standalone apps in watchOS 8, similar to the present iOS app landscape.
For nearly a century, since the 1930s when the first Z1 computer was created, computers have undergone significant changes. The Z1 was followed by large machines like the ENIAC, which occupied entire rooms. In the 1960s, computers transitioned from professional to personal use when the first personal computer (PC) was introduced to the public. In 1990, Intel began producing the first processor for mobile personal computers – the Intel386SL, and computers became even more widespread in a new form. Today, computers, including tablets and smartphones, come in various shapes and sizes.
But what will the next generation of computers be like? It can be speculated that the next stage will involve integrating AI into personal computers or working on computers through AR/VR. This would be a logical progression. While we can witness the development of AI firsthand, the situation with AR/VR is not as promising. This is the category that the startup Sightful hopes to advance with its new “augmented reality laptop,” which combines AR glasses and a keyboard, allowing users to carry a 100-inch desktop in a backpack.
Spacetop is a compact computer developed by the Israeli startup Sightful. It features only a keyboard, trackpad, and HD augmented reality glasses. It is positioned as the world’s first “augmented reality laptop.” Although the laptop is clearly thicker than a 13-inch notebook, it is equally lightweight and portable. The device does not have a monitor, making it simply the lower half of a standard laptop. By wearing the glasses, users can project a 100-inch augmented reality screen, regardless of their location. There are already those who have had the opportunity to test the laptop, and their conclusions and impressions are mostly similar.
At first glance, it is indeed an impressive technology. Users can have a clear view of their desktop but can also see what is behind and around them, allowing for mobility while using the device.
The best way to describe the experience of using Spacetop, which operates on a specialized operating system called Spacetop OS, is as if a giant projector is projecting your desktop screen in the air in front of you. This projection remains fixed in place—it doesn’t follow you as you walk—and you can see different parts of the screen by moving your head, thanks to the head-tracking camera. It differs from a projector in that you are the only one who can see what is being projected.
Similar to Chromebook, the user interface of Spacetop OS, based on Android, works with cloud or web applications and features a taskbar, an app panel, and support for multiple windows.
The keyboard is equipped with a 5-megapixel camera (2560 x 1920 resolution) that can be used for video calls. With 1080p resolution per eye, the graphics and text appear sharp enough to work with for extended periods. You can also freely move around the room—all you need to do to realign the windows is press two buttons.
Specifically, only two new key functions have been added:
- Pressing both Shift buttons resets and centers the screen.
- In addition to the function keys at the top of the keyboard, a special user button minimizes the augmented reality screen.
While the focused features of Spacetop and the “all-in-one” design may have some advantages for virtual desktop productivity, the main issues related to displays remain; specifically, field of view, resolution, the sweet spot for optimal perception, and comfort.
Spacetop uses a pair of individual Nreal Light glasses with 6 degrees of freedom head tracking, a 60° field of view, and a resolution of 1920 × 1080 per eye. The glasses provide augmented reality rather than virtual reality, allowing you to see through their transparent glass and screens even when they are powered off. Upon activation, a set of tiny 1080p displays appears, creating an illusion of a 2K display for the eyes. As the user looks around, the screens follow the software, creating a virtual 100-inch display. The glasses also have two small speakers located near the ears but not directly above them, like Bose Frames. The sound is quiet enough not to be heard by others, providing a secluded listening experience, but it lacks bass.
The glasses are lightweight and comfortable to wear for extended periods, unlike other smart glasses. Users who wear prescription glasses or contact lenses can order special Spacetop AR glasses based on their prescription. While the portability and the 100-inch monitor are certainly appealing, not everyone enjoys the idea of wearing augmented reality glasses all day long. If you are sitting in a café, you can be assured that no one else will see what you are working on. However, despite the lack of fancy gesture controls, the “strange” glasses may attract unwanted attention.
Although Nreal glasses are not heavy, their relatively small field of view contradicts the idea of having a vast virtual desktop ready for work at any time. Instead of slightly turning your head and eyes, you will need to actively move your head to bring the augmented reality screen into view, which can cause motion sickness. This problem is often exacerbated by the fact that when you turn your eyes, the image on the edges becomes more blurry.
Considering that Nreal glasses use transparent displays, it complicates the resolution and clarity, as the floating windows in front of you will always have some level of transparency.
Spacetop with the Snapdragon 865 chip definitely cannot compete with regular laptops in terms of speed and performance. Spacetop is also not suitable for multitasking. The laptop is not designed for handling intensive graphic work or resource-intensive programs. At best, you can use it for basic tasks like web browsing, sending emails, video chatting, and messaging simultaneously. However, even in this scenario, Spacetop in its current iteration is not ready to fulfill its own mission. Developers market it as a laptop that can display multiple web pages on a wide screen, but its processor is simply not intended for that. Its chip is optimized to handle only a few tabs simultaneously. Opening more than ten tabs will strain the hardware. Despite some reservations about how promising this initial version will be, the laptop will not fly off the shelves at a $2000 price point, and the gadget will not become the next iPad.
The Evolution of Computers
Is this the future’s new evolutionary milestone for computers? Not yet. However, if refined versions are released, the gadget could become a truly useful everyday tool for users who prefer a large personal workspace. Spacetop could be efficient during flights or train journeys. The debut of Spacetop laid the foundation for the next step in computing, but its successor will require a wider field of view and more power to become an everyday gadget for everyone.
Currently, the pros have not outweighed the cons. It is unlikely that Spacetop (or any virtual desktop application, for that matter) will gain popularity until it can substantially replicate the experience of a basic laptop display with 1080p resolution, let alone an unlimited virtual desktop with multiple application windows.