Apps · News

Office 2016: Audio cues promise greater productivity for the blind

Microsoft has introduced sound effects in its Office 2016 apps.

The effects which are designed to help improve the productivity of users who are visually impaired provide audio cues for common tasks.

The feature will roll out over time to users of Excel 2016, Word 2016, Outlook 2016 and PowerPoint 2016 and, by extension, also Office 365.

The effects can be turned on or off by following these steps:

  1. In the File menu, select Options.
  2. On the Ease of Access tab, under Feedback Options, select or clear the Provide feedback with sound checkbox.
  3. If you wish, you can use the original Office sound effects by selecting the Classic theme from the Sound Theme drop-down.

Microsoft also provides the steps below for users who prefer to turn on the effects using the keyboard:

  1. Navigate to the File menu, then select Options. You can use the access keys Alt, then F, T.
  2. Once in the Options window, use the arrow keys to highlight Ease of Access.
  3. Press Tab to move to the Provide feedback with sound checkbox, then press Enter to select or clear the checkbox, which turns the sounds on or off, respectively.

With the sound effects turned on, a user who is blind or visually impaired now have an additional means to know when a wide range of tasks are completed.

The cues offer feedback for tasks such as changes in screen options and successful completion of actions, including sending and deleting a mail or pasting a content.

As with all other feature releases, Microsoft rolls out new improvements to users over time but the process can be sped up.

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Apps · How TO · iPhone · News · Smartphones · Tech Briefing

Tech Briefing 21: Accessibility help in Google Maps and Search, Find Wifi, Google Allo for the web and more

The tech scene saw interesting developments between Monday July 3 and Sunday July 9, 2017.

But let’s kick off Tech Briefing 21 with some useful resources and tips in the world of accessible technology for the blind.

Useful Accessibility News, Tips and Resources

Next Victor Reader to come GPS-ready

A new digital reader is coming soon from Humanware as part of the already well-known line of Victor Reader Stream.

Victor Reader Trek will have as its unique feature built-in GPS capability.

Ahead of that release, Blind Bargains has put together a podcast containing an interview and demonstration of the numerous features of the soon-to-be-released device.

Visual assistance has come a long way

An article in the July 2017 edition of the Braille monitor explores the progress made so far in rendering visual assistance to the blind via digital means.

The article titled “Need Vision on Demand? There’s An App For That” makes for an interesting read.

Information on Chrome accessibility now available on Youtube

The Chrome team at Google is constantly updating the Chrome and Chrome OS Accessibility Youtube channel with relevant videos.

The videos provide information on accessibility improvements in Chrome and Chrome OS along with other useful materials.

In other news

Today widget now available for Google Calendar on iOS

Google Calendar app for iPhone and iPad got a new feature last week: It’s the ’Today Widget’.

The new feature which came in the app’s latest update for iOS brings a quick view of calendar events from the app into the iOS search screen when swiping to the right from the home screen.

9to5Mac reports that the Today Widget for Google Calendar will show the next two events you have in your calendar by default. A “Show More” button in the upper right will reveal another two.

upcoming events.

The new feature is available when you update to Google Calendar version 2.4.0 for iOS.

Google Allo web client to arrive soon

Our long wait for Google Allo’s web/desk client may end in a few weeks, according to the Head of Product for Google Allo and Duo Amit Fulay who responded to a Twitter query last week.

Allo which was released to the public in September 2016 is Google’s latest consumer messaging app.

When its web/desk client makes it to the public, it is expected to work like WhatsApp, requiring users’ to activate the client by scanning a code on the app on their phones.

‘4:44’ now on Apple Music

If you love music, it is very likely you know artiste-and-businessman Jay-Z.

The rapper’s highly-anticipated ‘4:44’ album finally made it to Apple Music last week following its exclusive release on Jay-Z’s Tidal music service.

The album is already a success, going platinum in five days.

The availability of the album on Apple Music further highlights the intensive battle for subscriber numbers and revenue by the major platforms.

Google makes accessibility priority in Maps and Search

Adding and finding accessibility information about a location in Google Maps and Search are now easier, thanks to the crowdsourcing power of the maps app.

Already, users have added accessibility information including wheelchair accessible elevators, entrance, parking lot,, restroom and seating to more than 7 million locations around the world, according to Google.

Next iPhone reported to come in four colour choices

We already know quite a bit about the next iPhone, Apple’s flagship device even though most can simply be classified as guesses or rumours.

For instance, we have heard previously that the iPhone this year will have an OLED screen, an all-glass design, wireless charging, and much more.

But last week, Twitter leaker Benjamin Geskin claimed that the device will come in four colors – one of which is a new mirror-like option.

Well, only time – and of course Apple – can confirm which of the numerous claims flying around are true. And certainly, we will have to wait till then!

Facebook’s “Find Wifi” goes global

Facebook’s ‘Find Wifi’ feature has begun rolling out to the social network’s 2 billion users around the world following the company’s earlier announcement of its global availability.

“Find Wi-Fi helps you locate available Wi-Fi hot spots nearby that businesses have shared with Facebook from their Page,” the company posted on its web site. “So wherever you are, you can easily map the closest connections when your data connection is weak”.

The service proves particularly helpful in areas with poor internet network or when you are traveling.

To find Wi-Fi hotspots:

  1. Open your Facebook app.
  2. Click on the “More” tab and then “Find Wi-Fi.”
  3. Turn on the “Find Wi-Fi” service if it previously was not on.
  4. You can then browse the closest available hotspots on a map, and learn more about the businesses hosting them.

Sound off

So, have you used the ‘Find Wifi’ service? How about the Today Widget in Google Calendar for iOS? How are you using the accessibility feature in Google Maps and Search?

Please share your thoughts, experience and opinions in the comments section about the highlighted news.

Thank you.

News · Tech Briefing

Tech Briefing 20

Tech Briefing 20: iPhone is 10, delayed release of Google Drive replacement, social features for Apple Music

Welcome to the 20th in the weekly series Tech Briefing.

Google shifts Drive replacement release date

If you’ve been following developments in the cloud computing space, you’ll remember that Google announced it would release a new tool called Backup and Sync to replace Drive for Windows and Mac.

The company last week quietly pushed forward that release date originally slated for June 28 with no specific reason or new date.

When it is eventually released, Backup and Sync will not just upload individual files to the cloud, but backup users’ entire computer’s files (or at least specific directories) in the background. It will even integrate with Google Photos.

Note 7 Fan expected July 7

Samsung will on July 7 release the Galaxy Note 7 Fan Edition for the South Korean market where 400 thousand units will be sold.

Features of the fan edition will mostly be the same as those of last year’s Note 7 which brought the South Korean phone maker negative publicity. The only major change is the replacement of the 3500 mAh battery with a 3200 mAh battery which was subjected to eight tests.

Samsung may consider other markets to sell the phablet later.

iOS, macOS betas released to the public

Apple last week released the first beta of iOS 11 to the public, Making it available to users other than registered developers.

Some vision impaired users say the public beta of iOS 11 have a few accessibility bugs but in case you still want to install it, check out Accessibility 360’s post which guides you through the process.

macOS High Sierra public beta was also released in the same week.

Apple Music gets social

Meanwhile, Apple Music in iOS 11 brings new social features that help users discover new music based on what their friends are playing.

The new friends feature is already available to test in the iOS 11 developer and public beta to give users an idea of how it will work on Apple Music later this year.

3D Touch dropped in iOS 11

Apple has however removed the 3D Touch gesture that enabled faster access to the iPhone app switcher and a quick shortcut to move back to the previous app from iOS 11.

A bug report has now confirmed that this was an intentional removal and the feature will not be making a comeback.

The iPhone is 10

This edition will be incomplete without a mention of the iPhone which turned 10 during the week under review.

On June 29, 2007, the first iPhone went on sale following its announcement by Steve Jobs in January of the same year.

The smartphone has since gone through significant transformation with the iPhone of 2017 being a huge improvement with tons of features you probably would have imagined impossible back in 2007.

In the same token, iOS the operating system which powers the smartphone too has changed significantly within the same period.

The iPhone means different things to different people but there is a consensus on its huge impact on the global technology scene.

Thank you

So, what’s your opinion about the iPhone 10 years since it made it to the global market? Are you looking forward to the replacement for Google Drive for Windows and Mac PCs? Or do you have thoughts about any of the other items mentioned in this edition, do let us know in the comments section below.

Thank you for your time.

How TO · iPhone · Smartphones · Tips

What to Do to Use iOS 11 Ahead of Official Release

What to Do to Use iOS 11 Before its Official Release

Apple has finally released the public beta of iOS 11, meaning you don’t have to be a registered developer with the company to get to try out the new features before the upgrade makes it to the general public later this year.

A web site reporting on everything iOS and Mac, 9to5Mac, has outlined the steps interested users need to follow to get the public beta of iOS 11.

Users are advised to first back up their data before installing the public beta and to try out the software preferably on their secondary device.

Beta are software still in development and are known to have bugs.

Apple recommends using iTunes to backup devices and archiving that backup for safekeeping.

Similarly, 9to5Mac recommends encrypting the backed-up data to retain Health & Activity data.

Is My Device iOS 11 compliant?

Not every iOS device can run on iOS 11 of course so be sure yours is one of those which can work on the public beta. The following are the devices eligible for the upgrade.

iPhone

  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 5s

iPad

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2nd generation
  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro 1st generation
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad Air
  • iPad 5th generation
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad mini 3
  • iPad mini 2

iPod touch

  • iPod touch 6th generation

How to Install iOS 11 Public Beta

Now that you’ve confirmed that your iPhone, iPad and IPod touch can work with iOS 11 Public Beta, the next action is to backup your data.

Once both stages are completed, you can begin the installation.

9to5Mac put together a video guide to walk users through the installation process which it describes as fairly straightforward – taking about 20 minutes to complete depending on your wi fi speed of course.

It also outlined the steps as follows:

  1. From your eligible iOS device, use Safari to visit Apple’s public beta website.
  2. Tap the Sign Up button.
  3. Sign in to the Apple Beta Program with your Apple ID.
  4. Tap the Accept button in the bottom right-hand corner of the Agreement page.
  5. Tap the iOS tab.
  6. Tap the enroll your iOS device link.
  7. : Tap the Download profile button. The profile area of the Settings app will now open
  8. On the Install Profile page, tap Install in the upper right-hand corner.
  9. Tap Install on the Consent page.
  10. Tap the Install button at the bottom of the page.
  11. Tap Restart to reboot your iOS device. Your iOS device will reboot with the iOS 11 public beta profile installed
  12. Once your device reboots, go to Settings → General → Software Update and you should see Checking for Update.
  13. Tap the Download and Install button.
  14. Tap Agree in the bottom right-hand corner of the Terms and Conditions page. This will begin the download process.
  15. Once the download is complete, tap Install Now to begin the install.

Now that you have successfully installed the public beta , please watch 9to5Mac’s hands-on video of 100 new features found in iOS 11 in order to become better acquainted with the new software.

Android · Apps · News · Tech Briefing

Tech Briefing 19 for June 26, 2017

Tech Briefing 19

News on forthcoming Galaxy Note 8, App Store clean up, Facebook and New Android Browser

So much happened in the technology scene throughOUT the week of Monday June 19 to Sunday June 25, 2017. Here’s a quick review of the major ones in Tech Briefing 19:

Expected new device

Note 7 successor coming soon

Samsung apparently has recovered from the crisis that followed the exploding Note 7 last year. Now, it is reportedly planning the launch of the Note 8 for an event later this August.

Rumour also has it that the Note 8 will be priced at around 900 dollars, will run on a 6-gigabytes RAM and is disappointingly very likely to be powered by a 3,300MAH battery.

Apps

Google Photos drops back-up-while-charging

You now do not need your Android or iOS device to be plugged to electricity for Google Photos to back up your photos and videos.

Some users last week noticed that the feature had been removed from the app.

Previously, Photos had an optional feature to allow media back up only when a device is being charged thereby ensuring that battery power which could serve other purposes was not consumed.

Meanwhile, new features that include Lens, suggested sharing and shared library are expected to be added to the app in the course of this year.

Clean up of App store continuing

Ahead of an all-new App Store re-design later this year, Apple last week continued ITS clean up of the store to rid it of cloned and spam apps as well as apps which are neither 64-bit compliant nor been downloaded in a long time.

The exercise which according to the iPhone maker has already seen the removal of hundreds of thousands of apps is to improve the quality of the store.

Apple Music gets annual subscription option

Users of Apple Music now have a reason to be excited. The service now provides them a yearly subscription option at 99 dollars.

This option which Apple introduced quietly will now also help users save 20 dollars yearly over paying about 10 dollars monthly.

Data security

Facebook to prevent profile photo misuse

A new feature that will prevent profile photos from being downloaded is reportedly being tested by Facebook.

If the feature becomes public, users will be able to protect their profile photo so that other people cannot download or share it or even take a screenshot of it on Android.

The move is reportedly to make women feel more comfortable to upload their photos on the service in an era when scammers are known to have harvested women’s photos to use on dating and other sites.

Firefox Focus now available on Android

Mozilla has released its Firefox Focus for Android users.

The new browser which was previously launched for iOS offers users an anonymous way to browse the web.

Mozilla prides Firefox Focus as a useful app for all who value their privacy.

Additionally, 9to5Google reports that Focus brings the following as important features to the Android version:

  • Ad tracker counter – For the curious, there’s a counter to list the number of ads that are blocked per site while using the app.
  • Disable tracker blocker – For sites that are not loading correctly, you can disable the tracker blocker to quickly take care of it and get back to where you’ve left off.
  • Notification reminder – When Focus is running in the background, we’ll remind you through a notification and you can easily tap to erase your browsing history.

Focus appears to have been made with accessibility in mind. Users who are curious to know more should head to the Play Store to get it free right away.

Thank you

That’s it in this week’s edition of Tech Briefing for Monday June 19 to Sunday June 25, 2017.

Any comments about the apps, services and devices highlighted in Tech Briefing 19? Please let us in on them them in the comments section.

Also, remember to share our post across your various platforms.

Thank you for your time.

Android · Apps · iPhone · News

Tech Briefing 18: NVDA 2017.2 released, SMS pulled from Hangout, and more

Here is Tech Briefing 18 with me Ayoola Efunkoya. It’s my rap up of developments in technology for the week of May 22-28, 2017.

Google withdrew the SMS feature from its Hangouts app. Hangouts is gradually being tailored towards enterprise users.

The search giant also began rolling out a “Family Group”  feature to easily share calendars, photos, notes, and content subscriptions. This feature is however not yet available in Nigeria.

Come June 30, some older Apple products will attain the obsolete status, meaning they will lose repair support at Apple Retail Stores and Authorized Service Providers. An internal document cited last week by 9To5Mac lists the affected products as follows:

•MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2011)

•MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2011)

•MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2011)

•MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2011)

•MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2011)

•AirPort Express 802.11n (1st Gen)

•MacBook Pro (17-inch, mid 2009)

•iPhone 3GS (16GB / 32GB

•iPhone 3GS (16GB / 32GB – China)

The list above is a guide for all current users and all who plan to buy used devices. Apple normally begins the transition to obsolete status some 5-7 years after manufacturing has been discontinued.

9To5Mac points out that it’s around this time that parts are increasingly hard to find and repairs are unpractical. Once a device has been flagged as obsolete, users cannot go through official Apple channels to have repairs done.

NVDA 2017.2, the latest version of the free screen-reader used by tens of thousands of Windows users, became available as this episode was being compiled

The announcement, highlights and download options for this release is available at http://bit.ly/2qwDYHe

Thank you for your time and attention.

News

Tech Briefing 17: App changes, Google 2017 I/O highlights, and Mor

Hello.

I’m Ayoola Efunkoya.

This is the 17th instalment of Tech Briefing, your round up of news, tips and more for the week May 15-21, 2017.

There is news, app updates and podcasts you should check out.

APPS

WhatsApp on Android received a feature which now allows you to pin a conversation or group of conversations to the top of the chat tab, removing the need to scroll through numerous conversations to reach one with your loved one or favourite group.

To pin a chat, just double tap and hold down a specific conversation, the option to pin should be one of the choices that will appear at the top of the screen. Tap to pin and that conversation will always be at the top even if you do not chat with them for weeks.

The Nigerian financial institution Guaranty Trust Bank introduced a new mobile app for Android and iOS that now allows you to, among other things, sign in to your account using facial recognition or finger print.

It’s still quite too early to say how blind-friendly GTWorld is but anyone with an account may check out the Android version at http://bit.ly/2q4WINT and the iOS at http://apple.co/2qCQZ4v.

PODCASTS

, the Cisco Academy for the Visually Impaired which offers numerous training on computer and audio production is the focus of Eyes on Success Episode #1721. Listen or download at http://bit.ly/2p6t5h5

NEWS

A number of screen reader users on Windows certainly know JAWS and NVDA are not the only options.

Now, the choices have been reduced by one with the discontinuation of the sale of Window-Eyes recently.

From Apple came a number of OS updates: iOS 10.3.3 beta for iPhone and iPad; WatchOS 3.2.2 for Apple Watch; and macOS 10.12.5.

Meanwhile, a report suggests Apple is very likely to discontinue the 7.9-inch iPad Mini in future. Apple’s failure to release updates for that line of iPad in recent years seem to support the claim in the report.

Google dominated the news during the week with announcements from its 2017 I/O developer conference. It’s therefore just right to end this episode with a quick round up of some of the major announcements:

Android Go to optimise the OS for low-level devices running on 512MB or one GB RAM, with focus on minimal storage and data use.

The next version of Android to be known as Android O enters the second phase of the Beta Program with improved security, performance and battery life as some key focus.

Keyboard input finally added to Google Assistant in addition to the previously available voice input.

Google Assistant now available on iPhones in the U.S., to roll out elsewhere later and in more languages.

Smart speaker Google Home to add hands-free calling, proactive assistance and Bluetooth streaming.

Google Lens to roll out later this year first on Photos and Assistant with the ability to understand what you’re looking at and provide actions to interact with the world around you.

Google Photos adds suggested sharing, shared libraries and photo books.

Google’s I/O developer conference is always an event to look forward to. The keynote where many of the developments were unveiled for this year is available for replay at http://bit.ly/2rEfkp8.

Thank you for your time. Again, I’m Ayoola Efunkoya.