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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.