Double Tap Canada

Join hosts Steven Scott and Shaun Preece as they discuss news, reviews and technology stories of interest to people who are blind or partially sighted, Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern. 

Double Tap Canada

Join hosts Steven Scott and Shaun Preece as they discuss news, reviews and technology stories of interest to people who are blind or partially sighted, Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern. 

Double Tap Canada Blog: Black Friday, Flicktype and Shaun's Top 5

Double Tap Canada Episode 58 – Black Friday, Flicktype and Shaun's Top 5

The Flicktype logo

On this week’s episode of Double Tap Canada, Steven Scott, Tim Schwartz and Shaun Preece discuss a wide range of topics as usual in their own inimitable style.

Listen now or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

Black Friday

This week, Steven Scott is exhausted as the endless parade of Black Friday offers shows up on his devices, despite Black Friday itself not having even happened yet! The guys discuss their own purchases which seems to be Amazon Echo Dots in the majority. However, they also offer some caution to would-be online customers suggesting that we should all take care to prevent fraudulent activity on our cards.

Skype, Alexa and Cortana Are Now Friends

In the news this week, Microsoft have announced its official partnership with Amazon with a number of new features coming to the Amazon Echo devices across the world in the next few months.

This has already started with Alexa becoming available on the PC through the Microsoft Store (as we discussed last week) but now also Skype calling is available through Alexa as well now, meaning you can use your Skype account to contact someone with an Alexa account.

Read more about Skype On Alexa in our latest blog post

In addition, we've learned the Windows smart assistant Cortana is now available as a skill for Amazon Echo's as well (U.S. only). This will let you send emails and do Windows-like work through the Echo device making it a productivity device for the workplace as well potentially.

Read more about Cortana on Alexa in our latest blog post

Flicktype Drops Subscription Model

Following a lengthy discussion over a period of weeks on Double Tap Canada about Flicktype and its decision to create a monthly subscription for its popular iOS keyboard, the company has decided to drop the monthly subscription and create a yearly sub instead due to pressure from Apple.

Read more about the decision by Flicktype and what it means for users

Accessible TVs

TV in the UK is fairly inaccessible to blind and partially sighted people and the Double Tap Canada team discuss some of the ways that visually impaired people can still enjoy TV, in particular on demand services.

Read more about the first fully accessible TV box in the UK

Shaun's Top 5 Gadgets He Can't Live Without

It's time for Shaun to deliver his own Top 5 gadgets he can't live without, and he didn't disappoint.

  1. Be My Eyes - Another app! But it's essential according to Shaun. Available on iOS and Android, it can help you out and about or in the home. If you just need a pair of eyes, volunteers online are waiting to help. Just don't share your personal bank details or personal correspondence!
  2. Seeing AI - It's not officially a gadget, but it is something Shaun uses once a day. It's an app that can help you read your letters, tell you what currency you are looking for and even detect people's faces. Get it now!
  3. Battery Chargers - Talking of dead batteries, all our gadgets are great until the battery goes. Shaun always carries one around and offers some good advice when it comes to looking out for the best options.
  4. Wired Headphones - Despite Steven's insistence that wireless headphones and earbuds are great, Shaun thinks you can't beat a pair of wired headphones. It's good for when the batteries die!
  5. Bluetooth Trackers - tech to help you find your tech! You can attach these little trackers to anything you can think of like keys or our wallet and then use a smartphone app to help you locate the item, usually in an audible way so it's easy for us!

Double Tap Canada airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-audio and is available as a podcast.

Get in touch and email your thoughts to feedback@ami.ca

Double Tap Podcast Episode 57: Love is in the Air

The Microsoft logo

On this week’s episode of Double Tap Canada, Steven Scott, Tim Schwartz and Shaun Preece discuss a wide range of topics as usual in their own inimitable style.

Listen now or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

Love is in the Air

There's a romantic start to our show this week as Steven tells us about his new love of his life - let's just hope his wife isn't listening! Fortunately, it's not a new woman but in fact a screen reader. As a JAWS user in his day-to-day working environment Steven is used to the way screen readers should behave. However upon trying Narrator (which is the free screen reader built into Windows) a few years back he was less than impressed. For years it's been described as the 'screen reader used to download other screen readers' but could that have changed? Steven thinks so as the October release of Windows updated operating system brought new features to the free and built-in offering. After only a week it seems Steven is smitten with his new love and is even questioning whether or not to buy JAWS for home use. Also could it be better than NVDA, which is also free to download? The team discuss with many mixed views.

Read about the changes to Narrator that are in the new build of Windows 10 available now free as part of the regular updates

Alexa On Windows 10

Staying with Windows 10 and this time a new addition to the Microsoft Store. A free download that puts "Lady A" as the guys call her, or Alexa to the rest of us, inside your computer.

The features are fairly limited at this stage but it does do most of the things you would use Alexa for like setting timers, adding things to your shopping list and telling the time etc. But what about the already built in assistant Cortana? Is she about to pack her virtual bags and head off into the night, or do both of them work well together?

Find out about how to get Alexa on Windows 10 (from WindowsCentral.com)

Stuff You Can Do With Alexa

We talk a lot on the show about all of the great gadgets out there, but what can you actually do with them? In our new series "Stuff You Can Do With Alexa" we focus on the Amazon Echo devices and the actual "stuff" that can be done with them. This week the guys talk about having fun and each of them have a go at a popular trivia game called "Trivia Hero" which you can play by saying "Alexa, play Trivia Hero..." Tell us how you get on and what your score is.

Double Tap Canada airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-audio and is available as a podcast.

Get in touch and email your thoughts to feedback@ami.ca

Double Tap Podcast Episode 56: Aira pricing, Orcam features, Steven’s Top 5 gadgets

A pair of Aira glasses.

On this week’s episode of Double Tap Canada, Steven Scott, Tim Schwartz and Shaun Preece discuss a wide range of topics as usual in their own inimitable style.

Listen now or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

Aira announces new pricing

The company that is becoming known for providing smart assistance through its app and glasses technology is making some changes to its pricing structure so more blind and partially sighted people can try out the service.

Aira is now allowing its users to use the service through its app at an introductory price of $29 US, with additional plans starting at $124 US to use the service with its glasses with built-in camera.

In this week’s episode, Tim Schwartz talks about how he used the service and why he made the decision to give it up. What do the other members of the team think about that?

Orcam gets new features

The popular camera mounted on glasses that helps the blind and partially sighted read their mail, restaurant menus and more is getting some new features.

Orcam is available in many countries, including Canada, and consists of a small camera that magnetically connects to a mount on your glasses, or glasses provided by Orcam should you not wear them.

Read all about the new features in Orcam

The guys talk about this kind of technology which can cost in the region of $4,000 CAN depending on the model you choose, and whether it has any place in the modern tech world.

Steven’s Top 5 gadgets

Steven loves buying new technology as many of our listeners know, but this time around he decides to talk about what he already has, and what he considers to be his ultimate Top 5 gadgets. He fully expects many people to disagree with his list and welcomes your feedback via feedback@ami.ca
Steven’s top 5 gadgets are:

  1. Apple iPhone
  2. Amazon Echo
  3. Olympus DM-7 dictation machine
  4. Aftershokz Bluetooth Bone Conduction Headphones
  5. Windows Laptop

Double Tap Canada airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-audio and is available as a podcast.

Get in touch and email your thoughts to feedback@ami.ca

Double Tap Canada Episode 55 – Apple Event reaction

An iPad Pro being used.

On this week’s episode of Double Tap Canada the team of Steven Scott, Tim Schwartz and Shaun Preece discuss a wide range of topics as usual in their own inimitable style.

Listen to episode 55 of Double Tap Canada or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

Apple Event Review

This week the guys reviewed the latest products from Apple’s October "There’s More In The Making" event held in Brooklyn, New York.

It is clear that Apple are aiming their new products towards creatives and professionals now, as well as the education market, which does leave the guys wondering about the "common person" in all of this–what about those of us who enjoy using Macs but don’t need them to create a feature film?

In this week’s review the guys discuss the pros and cons of the following new products:

•    MacBook Air
•    Mac Mini
•    iPad Pro

The new MacBook Air doesn’t get much of a fanfare from Steven as he believes the price of the new laptop will put people off. It’s also his view that the retina display, while excellent for those with low vision, is just an additional expense for those who have no vision at all.

Tim and Shaun are far more excited by the new iPad Pro. The new design and high performance certainly appeals however they are slightly concerned about how much vision you would need to get the most out of the device, no longer seen as a simple leisure tablet.

Steven is however far more upbeat about the new Mac Mini. He considers it to be the "Blind Mac" as you don’t get a fancy screen, keyboard or mouse. You can connect whatever you need to it and you get proper ports, instead of a host of USB-C ports you need to add lots of dongles into.

Read Steven's personal review of the Apple event

Overall, the guys are upbeat about the event but Steven ends with his usual apocalyptic view that Apple are going too far towards the creative and pro world and pushing the rest of us out, all the while moving closer to a touchscreen world.
 

Double Tap Canada airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-audio and is available as a podcast.

Get in touch and email your thoughts to feedback@ami.ca

Double Tap Canada Episode 54 – Apple Event rumours, new iPhone and Echo Dot

An images of Apple's iPhone XR

On this week’s episode of Double Tap Canada the team of Steven Scott, Tim Schwartz and Shaun Preece discuss a wide range of topics as usual in their own inimitable style.

Listen to episode 51 of Double Tap Canada or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

This week the guys discuss the latest rumours ahead of Apple's next Special Event on the 30th of October. While rumours are always speculation at this time, we can fairly and safely assume that there will be a new lineup of iPad Pro's with the new bezel-less design (seen on the new iPhone XS, XS Max and XR), a new MacBook which will update the older range of MacBook Airs, and possibly a new Mac mini (which hasn't been updated since 2015).

Read the latest rumours from MacRumours here

Also, Steven Scott has a theory that he discusses on this week's podcast about why Apple might be less interested in average consumers picking up a new iMac or MacBook. Could it be that pro-users are Apple's main focus now, with iPhones and iPads being the main attraction for the average customer?

New iPhone XR

Tim and Shaun seem rather excited about the launch of the new iPhone XR which has just been launched, while Steven (who has already bought a new iPhone XS) is less interested. But hang on, isn't the new XR a cheaper phone and arguably more value for that money? Why isn't Steven jumping for joy? He reveals all this week.

Check out all the specs and info about the new iPhone XR from Macworld

One More Thing

Steven discusses his new found love of the Amazon Echo Dot 3 which Shaun reviewed last week on Double Tap Canada.

Listen to Shaun's review of the new Amazon Echo Dot 3 right here

Double Tap Canada airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-audio and is available as a podcast.

Get in touch and email your thoughts to feedback@ami.ca

Double Tap Canada Episode 53 – VoRail, Echo Dot and Flicktype

VoRail's logo

On this week’s episode of Double Tap Canada, Steven Scott, Tim Schwartz and Shaun Preece discuss a wide range of topics as usual in their own inimitable style.

Listen now to episode 53 of Double Tap Canada or subscribe to the podcast

VoRail Subscription

A popular social media app for blind and partially sighted people is hinting that it will bring a new subscription model soon to cope with the cost of keeping the service updated and relevant.

VoRail was originally intended to be a dating app, but due to the way it uses audio to communicate with users rather than typing text (like on Facebook and Twitter) blind and partially sighted people have started to adopt the platform as their own.

However as the app isn’t as popular as Facebook or Twitter, commercial opportunities are lacking meaning that the social network needs to find new ways to keep going, and develop itself further.

The creators have announced that they intend to bring in a subscription model soon at a cost of roughly $5 USD a month.

Listeners give their views to our Double Tappers this week.

You can listen to their comments in full and read more on our Double Tap blog.

Download the VoRail app on your iPhone by clicking this link which will take you to the Apple App Store

Sound of Echo Dot

This week Shaun Preece puts the new Echo Dot 3 from Amazon through its paces and compares it to the previous 2nd generation model, as well as the larger Amazon Echo, Google Home and Google Home Mini.

It’s safe to say Shaun won’t be listening to the classic B52s track ‘Love Shack’ again anytime soon!

Read more of Shaun’s review of the Dot on the Double Tap blog and also check out Shaun’s thoughts on the most recent Amazon event.

Flicktype on Apple Watch?

The app developers who brought us the software keyboard Flicktype which can replace the standard keyboard on your Apple iPhone is coming to your Apple Watch.Tim Schwartz reviews the beta version of the software and comes to the conclusion that while there are still bugs and kinks to be worked out, the app is generally a better way to enter text on your Apple Watch.

Find out more about Flicktype by clicking here

Double Tap Canada airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-audio and is available as a podcast.

Get in touch and email your thoughts to feedback@ami.ca

Double Tap Canada Episode 52 – Google event post-mortem, Top 5 iOS 12 features

A hand holds an Apple iPhone.

On this week’s episode of Double Tap Canada, Tim Schwartz and Shaun Preece discuss a wide range of topics as usual in their own inimitable style.

Listen to episode 51 of Double Tap Canada or subscribe to the podcast.

Google Event - worth the hype?

Tim and Shaun discuss the latest announcements from Google's "Made By Google" event and ask if it was worth the hype. Since the tech giant has launched a range of new devices they guys ask if they've gone far enough to stand out from the crowd. Find out all about the Google Home Hub, which is a way of controlling your smart home, as well as the new tablet called the Google Slate (with a 12.3 inch screen) and the two new Pixel 3 phones, one larger than the other by clicking here.

Tim's Bits: Top 5 Features in Apple's iOS 12

Tim Schwartz lays out his thoughts on the major features that have now been included in Apple's latest operating system for iPhones and iPads.

You can read Tim's full list of features and why he likes them here

Siri Shortcuts

Shaun and Tim try their best to make sense of one of Tim's favourite features in iOS 12 - Siri Shortcuts. It's a feature that lets you create a bunch of shortcuts together to make something happen in the way you want, such as play a certain playlist when you arrive home, or turn off the lights and switch on your alarm as you leave the house. It's a useful feature but it's quite in-depth and we think Steven is glad he wasn't around for this discussion!

A blog in Siri Shortcuts is coming soon to show you what it's capable of but in the meantime check out this article on Applevis for more information.

Other News

Facebook launched their own smart screen called the Portal in both 10 and 15 inch sizes. No detail yet on how these screens work and whether it'll be accessible to us as blind people but we will update with more information as we get it.

Click here for more information on the Portal from Facebook's website

Double Tap Canada airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-audio and is available as a podcast.

Get in touch and email your thoughts to feedback@ami.ca

Double Tap Canada Episode 51 – JAWS screenreader, Google event rumours and accessibility issues with iPhone?

Logo of the JAWS screenreader

On this week’s episode of Double Tap Canada the team of Steven Scott, Tim Schwartz and Shaun Preece discuss a wide range of topics as usual in their own inimitable style.

Listen to episode 51 of Double Tap Canada or subscribe to the podcast.

First Steps With Screenreaders

It's not unusual for Steven Scott to start the show off talking about himself - and yes he's done it again. Declaring himself the "best husband ever," he tells us how he has been helping his wife learn JAWS following a dramatic reduction in her vision has forced her to begin using the screenreader. The discussion that follows explains the challenges that everyone on the team has faced in learning new software like this as it is such a departure from the usual ways to use a computer.

Jaws 2019

Lots of new features in the new public beta of JAWS 2019 which was released this week. Improvements on handling Office 365, new custom key commands for Skype and the ability to mute certain of the most-used keys on the keyboard such as Esc or Tab are just some of the features. The guys suggest, however, that you do not update to this if you are a fairly intermediate user who is happy with the way your computer works just now!

Read our blog on the full list of new features in Jaws 2019.

Listen to the latest FSCast from Freedom Scientific talking to Eric Damery from Vispero about the new features in Jaws 2019.

Google Event Rumours

There are many rumours out there ahead of Google's launch event on October 9th, and Double Tap Canada is cutting through the noise and bringing you what it thinks is the most plausible rumours and suggestions for next week's event. These include:

Likely
•    There will be a new Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphone
•    A new Google Pixelbook 2 with a 4K screen, thinner bezels and the possibility of an LTE SIM card slot built-in
•    New Google Pixel Buds (or at least some software making them better than the original ones)
•    A Google Home Hub of some kind - a sort of competitor to the Amazon Echo Show
•    A Google Pixel docking station which could offer a way to turn your charging smartphone into a Google Home assistant

Unlikely
•    Any new Google Home hardware, such as the Mini, Home or Max
•    A new Google Pixel smartwatch featuring Wear OS software (despite it possibly becoming a major competitor to Apple, especially for blind people if they get the accessibility right)
•    Listen to next week's Double Tap Canada (Episode 52) for full coverage and to see if we got anything right!

No Home Button For New iPhones - Is It An Accessibility Issue?

Listener Gordon got in touch to ask if not having a home button on Steven's new iPhone XS meant he had issues turning Voiceover on and off. If set up, you can use the home button to open the accessibility settings (three presses on the home button once set up) and you can select Voiceover, which speaks the menu options even if it's turned off.

The new iPhone XS range, like the X last year, only has a side button. The good news, though, is by doing the same three-press action on the side button you can achieve the same result. So no major loss there!

Double Tap Canada airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-audio and is available as a podcast.

Get in touch and email your thoughts to feedback@ami.ca

Double Tap Canada Episode 50 – Oculus Quest, Bugs in Apple software and Steven’s new gadgets

An image of Oculus Quest

Oculus Quest is the world’s first all-in-one gaming system built for virtual reality. According to the Facebook-owned company, you can now play almost anywhere with just a VR headset and controllers. This is new to the world of virtual reality as up until now you had to connect the headset to a PC or console, or slip your smartphone into a headset.

While this might not seem like the type of tech that blind or partially sighted people could enjoy, there is some benefit to those who have certain eye conditions, in particular those who still have some central vision. It’s fairly obvious that someone with no vision wouldn’t benefit in any way visually, however VR may still have its uses as it offers 3D stereo and positional audio. Perhaps audio games could be played using this system as well – who knows?

Check out the latest about the new Oculus Quest

Bugs in Apple are Software?

The new operating systems for Apple’s iPhone, Watch and Mac were launched this week. One major bug was spotted in the WatchOS software by Tim and Steven, however since our recording the issue has been resolved. The guys spotted a flaw where you couldn’t activate any of the options in the Watch control centre despite all of the buttons being accessible. This has now been fixed in the latest update of the Watch software.

Check out the Applevis website for updated info on bugs and support for all Apple tech

Steven’s New Gadgets

As unusual as it may seem, Steven Scott has been buying again! This time around he’s bought a new iPhone XS and an Apple Watch Series 4.

But why make those choices? Steven says the iPhone XS is the perfect size for him as he doesn’t want the larger screen size but he did want to experience the new OLED screen as apparently it is better for some eye conditions as the light emitted from the screen is less sharp, the light is cooler and the colours are more vibrant. He will report back soon.

Find out more about the new iPhones

As for the Watch, Steven admits he didn’t really need a new watch as he had the Series 3, but he wanted the larger 44mm screen. He doesn’t want to look at the screen but he wants a larger screen for his ‘larger fingers’! He will again report back soon.

Find out more about the new Apple Watch Series 4

Double Tap Canada airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-audio and is available as a podcast.

Get in touch and email your thoughts to feedback@ami.ca

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