Coincidentally, MacRumors' sister site TouchArcade today took a look at the possibilities for accessibility features in iOS gaming. The report highlights a close-knit community that is gaining the ability to use and interact with experiences on iOS thanks to a few motivated developers taking the time to implement Apple's extensive accessibility options in their own games.
The genesis of the article came from a single comment posted on an RPG-related piece which included the game King of Dragon Pass [Direct Link]. The user, Zack Kline, caught TouchArcade's attention by mentioning the little talked-about feature of the iOS game implementing a successful and satisfying amount of options to become playable for blind players.
Screenshot from King of Dragon Pass
This time around, one comment from a reader named Zack Kline caught my attention. It reads, "One aspect which often gets overlooked is that it's one of the few big iOS games which has really gone out of its way to become playable by the blind. There's a sizable population of iOS users, myself included, who are really happy that Apple has done so much work on making their platform accessible, but don't have a lot of interesting games to enjoy. Frankly, (King Of Dragon Pass) is the best, and certainly the deepest. I only wish we had more choices."The game, originally a PC title, was unable to include accessibility features in the PC version due to time constraints, but designer David Dunham felt adding VoiceOver options to the iOS port simply "seemed like the right thing to do." VoiceOver's simple gesture controls for reading text aloud make King of Dragon Pass, largely a text adventure and interactive story-based game, readily playable for blind users interested in the game.
Many apps and games lack such support, however, with the shortcoming largely stemming from a need to set priorities in the development process of every game. Given the often tight time constraints for development work, accessibility features frequently rank low on that priority list given the relatively small base of people who would benefit from it. Speaking with TouchArcade, however, Dunham points to a largely painless process of including VoiceOver support for his game, and the larger satisfaction of King of Dragon Pass being playable to even more fans as a result.
Since King Of Dragon Pass was mostly a text-based game, Dunham used UIKit to make it rather than a sprite-based engine. That meant that almost everything worked with VoiceOver to some extent without any extra work done. From there, it was just a matter of going through every screen and making sure things worked as they should, particularly with regards to pictures. The only part that required extensive work was the game's map, which was originally designed as being coordinate-based. The new VoiceOver map is actually composed of discrete tappable areas, according to Dunham, something that came about as a result of enthusiastic testers and would-be players.According to Dunham, in the last month or so about 7 percent of players booting up his game have done so in VoiceOver mode. Although that may seem low, Dunham says it was well worth the investment and time consumption of supporting the features in the game. Amir Rajan is the developer of another accessibility-supported iOS game, A Dark Room [Direct Link], and agrees with Dunham. "It's worth it to get a thank you email from a father with a blind daughter that can enjoy a popular game that her seeing friends play too," said Rajan.
Of course, the games supporting these features right now are a bit simpler, less intense experiences. The developers supporting these features should be celebrated, but, as members of Apple-focused accessibility site AppleVis point out, the hope for the future is more games built with these features in mind from the get-go.
The full article on TouchArcade is well worth a read, and goes into even more detail regarding specific testimonies from blind gamers, developer reactions, and the short list for the best accessible iOS gaming experiences out now.
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The American Foundation for the Blind today announced four honorees for the upcoming Helen Keller Achievement Awards, highlighting Apple’s VoiceOver and Accessibility efforts alongside actor Charlie Cox, musician Ward Marston, and biopharmaceutical company Vanda Pharmaceuticals.
The foundation says that it gives this award to “accomplished individuals and companies for their success in improving quality of life for people with vision loss either through groundbreaking innovation or inspirational achievement that changes perceptions about what it means to be visually impaired.”
Apple is specifically being awarded for VoiceOver Accessibility technology across its products, per the announcement:
AFB is recognizing Apple for VoiceOver, a gesture-based screen reader that allows users to hear a description of everything happening on the display, and other features that make iPhone, iPad and other iOS devices accessible to people with vision loss. Apple received an AFB Access Award in 2009 for its trailblazing engineering of accessible products and continues its extraordinary efforts to make their products accessible for everyone.
Apple began integrating Accessibility features across OS X, and has since expanded these efforts to the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and even Apple Watch. As a new product, the Apple Watch has preferences for larger text size, sharper contract, and VoiceOver, but Apple CEO Tim Cook said that more can be done on the Watch front, we reported earlier this year. Cook said, “the Watch will start with doing some things, but it will become better at more things over time,” related to Accessibility. Cook has also put Environment VP Lisa Jackson in charge of Apple’s Accessibility efforts.
Accessibility efforts have been a cornerstone of Cook’s tenure at Apple, with the CEO highlighting the importance of equality in frequent speeches, including a notable one at Auburn University last year. While Apple’s Accessibility efforts have previously been incorrectly questioned, The National Federation for the Blind has backed Apple by stating the company “has done more for accessibility than any other company to date, and we have duly recognized this by presenting the company with at least two awards (including our annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award) and publicly praising it whenever the opportunity arises.”
Filed under: AAPL Company, Tech Industry Tagged: accessibility, Apple, Apple watch, iOS, iPad, iPhone, IPod Touch, Mac, OS, VoiceOver
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Designed for users who need storage space that can be used in the field in suboptimal conditions, the bus-powered G-Drive ev ATC will keep data safe in all kinds of environments. The ev ATC (which has an ev RaW 7200 RPM hard drive inside) is also compatible with company's Evolution series, including the G-Drive ev and G-Drive ev SSD, so hard drives can be swapped in and out of the rugged enclosure.
What's in the Box?
The G-Drive ev ATC includes one inner 1TB G-Drive ev RaW, the rugged outer casing, and a USB to Micro-B cable for using the hard drive with your Mac when it's not inserted into the enclosure with the Thunderbolt cable. It also ships with a small instruction manual to walk you through removing the inner drive from the outer casing and swapping it into other G-Technology products if desired.
Design and Features
There are two major parts to the G-Drive ev ATC: the hard plastic and rubber all-terrain case and the inner 1TB hard drive. The outer shell is constructed from black plastic with blue rubber accents at the corners and on the top and bottom to provide cushioning should it accidentally fall. It feels like a solid, quality product that's going to stand up to abuse.
It's branded with the company's signature "G" logo and it has an LED at the top to let you know when it's plugged in and active. A built-in Thunderbolt cable tucks around the perimeter of the drive and is covered with a blue rubber cap to keep dust and water out. One minor downside to the hard drive here -- the rubber cap is flimsy and it feels like it could rip off with rough handling, and when subjected to a water test, a bit of water leaked in (it remained usable after the water dried).
On the side of the ev ATC, there's a buckle that can be opened up to release the top part of the enclosure to get to the ev RaW hard drive inside, which plugs into the outer casing using its SATA interface. The top of the opening is surrounded by the same rubber that's on the outside of the case, preventing water and dust from getting at the inner ev RaW when the case is closed.
The inside hard drive slides right out from the outer enclosure, and the case can be used with other G-Technology products. If you have a G-Dock, for example, you can pull out one of the drives, toss it in the ev ATC case and take it on the go, offloading pictures or videos by plugging it into the dock again. Similarly, if you have a G-Drive ev SSD, you can pull out the ev RaW and stick the SSD in the ev ATC for some extra protection when traveling. You can also take the ev RaW inside the ev ATC and plug it into the G-Dock via its SATA interface.
When plugged into the ev ATC case, the included ev RaW hard drive (or another ev series hard drive) works over Thunderbolt, but when removed from the casing, you'll need to use the USB 3.0 cable to connect the ev RaW to a computer. Since there's no USB interface on the ev ATC, connecting to a USB port on a Mac will always require opening up the case and removing the ev RaW.
Size wise, the G-Drive ev ATC is somewhat bulky because of the protective outer casing. It's going to fit fine in a backpack or suitcase, but it's larger than similar products from LaCie. It measures in at 6.46 by 4.25 by 1.20 inches, and weighs 0.82 pounds. The inner G-Drive ev RaW is slimmer and could fit in a pocket or purse, at 5.14 by 3.29 by 0.65 inches. It's actually the same as the other removable drives in the company's G-Dock ev series, but it's made of black plastic rather than aluminum for better durability and a 35 percent lighter weight.
The G-Drive ev ATC is marketed as an "all-terrain" hard drive that can hold up to several environmental hazards. It's shock resistant and will withstand a 6 and a half foot drop, it's resistant to pressure, protected from dust due to its enclosure, and it's water resistant when inside the casing. The drive is light enough that it floats in water, so should it somehow fall into a shallow pool of water, it won't sink to the bottom and become unretrievable.
According to G-Technology, it can survive for 30 seconds in water up to one foot in depth, so you shouldn't toss it into a lake, but it's going to be okay in the rain or with a bit of water spray at the beach. We stuck it in the shower for several minutes and saw no water leakage inside the case, but water did get into the Thunderbolt cable (as mentioned before, the hard drive remained functional after it dried). We also tested the drop capabilities and did not damage the inner drive or the casing even after repeated drops from six feet.
Software and Performance
Many hard drives on the market have drive management software packages pre-installed, but the ev RaW does not. It does come automatically formatted for use with Macs, so prospective buyers who want to use the drive with Windows will need to reformat it right out of the box.
According to G-Technology, the 7200 RPM ev RaW hard drive inside the ev ATC should see read/write speeds of up to 136MB/s, and in our tests using the Black Magic Disk Speed test, performance was nearly at that level. We saw average write speeds of approximately 122MB/s and average read speeds of 132MB/s when connected via the ev ATC's Thunderbolt.
Over USB 3.0, average speeds were just slightly lower at 120MB/s write and 130MB/s read. Overall, for a magnetic drive, the data transfer speeds were solid and in line with what G-Technology advertises.
Who's It For?
The average person doesn't need a hard drive that's able to withstand rain, mud, dirt, significant drops and other environmental hazards, so the G-Drive ev ATC is a bit of a niche product. It's aimed at photographers, videographers, and other professionals who do a lot of field work and often find themselves needing to store or access data in areas that could damage standard hard drives.
The G-Drive ev ATC can survive a lot of abuse including dust, drops, liquid spills, puddles, sand, and more, so it's worth a consideration if you're the type of person that needs to work in those conditions. It's expensive compared to other 1TB hard drives on the market, but it offers a level of protection that many competing products do not. It's worth noting that G-Technology's parent company HGST (a subsidiary of Western Digital) has some of the lowest hard drive failure rates and G-Technology products are often lauded for their reliability.
If you're already using G-Technology's ev product line in your home or office, the G-Drive ev ATC is a natural addition because it works with the existing G-Dock ev and offers swappable components. The inner ev RaW can be removed and used with the G-Dock, and the G-Drive ev and the G-Drive ev SSD work with the ev ATC enclosure.
It's only worth purchasing the ev ATC with Thunderbolt if you need to take advantage of a Thunderbolt port -- there's a cheaper USB 3.0 version that'll be available soon, and it's a better buy for primary use over a USB connection.
- Versatible, works with all Evolution Series G-Drive products
- Resistant to elements
- Floats in water
- Good performance
- Flimsy Thunderbolt cable cap
- USB 3.0 access requires removing inner drive from casing
The G-Drive ev ATC with Thunderbolt can be purchased from the G-Technology website for $229.95. It's also available from Amazon at the same price point.
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Pixelmator image editor and effects app for iOS now 50% off: $5 (Reg. $10)Games/Apps: Monument Valley $1, COD Strike Team $2, Infinity Blade III $3, moreGTA San Andreas for iOS now available at its lowest price ever: $3 (Reg. $7)
Grab any Apple iPad w/ LTE for $100+ off at T-Mobile during its Mother’s Day Sale
Twelve South rare sitewide discount: HiRise Deluxe iPhone/iPad stand $53, BookBook iPad case $70, more
Everything is awesome with this Apple Watch stand made of LEGO
OtterBox announces new Symmetry Series folio style cases for iPad Air 2 and iPad mini
Review: iOttie’s Active Edge bike mount safely puts your iPhone front and center, exclusive 30% promo codeMore new gear from today:
SanDisk Extreme SDXC/microSDHC cards up to 75% off, starting at $17 for 16GB
- New! Amazon: 70% off jewelry + free next day shipping for Mother’s Day slackers
- New! Daily Deals: uNu iPhone 6 Battery Case $43, RAVPower power bank $16, more
- New! Headphones: Sennheiser HD 202 II over-ears $15, Piston 3 in-ears $16, more
Lexar 128GB Micro-SD Card (95MB/s) for 4K video recording, more for $86 shippediOttie Easy View iPhone 6 Car Mount + RapidVolt Dual USB Car Charger $13 shipped ($24 value)
- Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker $179, UE Mini Boom $70, more
- Kensington ClickSafe Keyed Laptop/Device Lock $17 Prime shipped (Orig. $40+)
- Home: Philips AirFryer in black $120 (Orig. $220+), more
- Stream Amazon Prime Instant Video movies at 30,000-ft in the air
- Laptop bags: Belkin Messenger $20, Lowepro Passport $20, more
- Nexus 5 + 1-Year Unlimited Talk-and-Text Shipped: $200 (Orig. $582)
- Moto X (2014) unlocked 32GB for $350 (Reg. $550), 64GB: $375 (Reg. $600)
- Revogi Smart Color Bluetooth LED Bulb $35 Shipped (Orig. $50, CA Tax Only)
- Canon Refurb Cams: SL1 $300 (Orig. $550), Rebel T5 w/ lens kit $300 (Orig. $440), more
- Netgear N300 Wi-Fi range extender for $25 shipped (Reg. $37+)
- Mother’s Day Deals: Flower arrangements from $34, much more
- Bluetooth Speakers: Sony SRSX5 $130 (Reg. $180), UE Mini Boom $70 (Orig. $100)
- Multi-magazine subs from $4/yr: Wired, Men’s Health, ESPN, many more
- Google doubling the free trial period for new Play Music All Access members
- iPhone 6 MFi battery cases: UNU DX 3,000mAh $50, Anker Premium 3,100mAh $30
- Spotify reboots its popular 3-month $0.99 Premium plan for new subscribers
- ‘ExoMount Touch’ Universal Car Mount $20 Shipped (Orig. $30, Tax only in CA)
- Seagate’s recently released USB 3.0 Expansion drives: 4TB desktop $100, 1TB Portable $55
- Wireless EarPod-style Bluetooth 4 headphones (compatible w/Apple Watch): $12 shipped
- HBO NOW free trial offer drops to one week after initial promo period, sign up now
- iTunes Free App of the Week: Mighty Switch Force! Hose It Down! ($2 value)
- Ring Wifi Video Doorbell w/ iPhone/Android app: $189 Shipped (Orig. $229)
- T-Mobile is once again dishing up free MLB At Bat access to its customers ($20 value)
- 3.2-ft MFi Lightning cable + 2.4A Car Charger for $9 (Reg. $17)
- Regal’s $1 Summer Movies promo includes The Lego Movie, Paddington, more
- Free Xbox Live games for May: Mafia 2, F1 2013, CastleStorm DE, Pool Nation FX, more
- Free PlayStation Plus games for May: Guacamelee!, Unfinished Swan, more
The GoSun Grill uses solar power to cook your food even at night
Tony Hawk rides again in new Pro Skater 5 for Xbox One and PS4
Disney infinity 3.0 has been revealed w/ new Star Wars & Avengers Play Sets
- Samsung’s new SD cards bring faster speeds, larger storage for 4K video and photography
- GE’s new lightbulbs have HomeKit compatibility and will help you sleep better
- nexpaq’s iPhone 6 case enables killer features to be added and removed on-the-fly
- Connected Cycle’s smart pedals will track your riding and help you find a lost bicycle
- IKAWA’s coffee roaster brings the experience home w/ iOS connectivity and custom recipes
- Give your iPhone a shake to create exciting videos with TomTom’s new Bandit action cam
- Hulu just paid $180 million for Seinfeld, get the entire series for $65
- Patriot’s USB-C Flash Drives are primed for new MacBook and Chromebook Pixel owners
- The ON magnetic portable charging station from RUBIX takes inductive charging on the road
Filed under: Opinion, Tips and Tricks Tagged: 9to5Toys, Amazon, app deals, Apple Watch stand, Best Buy, Daily Deals, free apps, Gold Box, iPad, Pixelmator, Twelve South, video games
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