The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)
Get Together with Technology (GTT)
Top Ten iDevice Apps of 2017 With Long Descriptions
Here are the Top Ten iDevice Apps of 2017 as surveyed late in the year through the GTTProgram Blog, GTTSupport Email List and GTTProgram Facebook Group participants. This was not a scientific survey, so might be considered by some to be a “Fake List”. Be that as it may, your friendly GTT Group has likely had a hand in the results, and all of you are encouraged to submit your favourites for the 2018 list as we roll into November/December. In order to do so, please stay in touch and participate with GTT groups where ever they gather throughout 2018 by following us at,
Of course, none of the below apps are usable by blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted iDevice users if the screen reader (Voice Over) and/or magnifier (Zoom) apps aren’t mastered first.
The Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired offers free access to a series of videos called iFocus, which provides independent tutorials for learning the accessibility features of Voice Over and Zoom.
Listed according to the votes submitted:
Top 10 iDevice Apps:
1. Seeing AI, a free app By Microsoft Corporation.
Seeing AI is a free app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the blind and low vision community, this ongoing research project harnesses the power of AI to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text and objects.
Optimized for use with VoiceOver, the app enables you to recognize:
- Short Text – Speaks text as soon as it appears in front of the camera.
- Documents – Provides audio guidance to capture a printed page, and recognizes the text, along with its original formatting.
- Products – Scans barcodes, using audio beeps to guide you; hear the name, and package information when available. (works with iPhone 6 and later)
- People – Saves people’s faces so you can recognize them, and get an estimate of their age, gender, and emotions.
- Scenes (early preview) – Hear an overall description of the scene captured.
- Currency – Recognizes currency notes. (Requires iOS 11)
- Color – Identifies color.
- Handwriting – Reads handwritten text like in greeting cards
- Light – Generates an audible tone corresponding to the brightness in the surroundings.
- Images in other apps – Just tap “Share” and “Recognize with Seeing AI” to describe images from Mail, Photos, Twitter, and more.
Seeing AI is built to help you achieve more by leveraging the power of the cloud and artificial intelligence. As the research progresses, more channels may be added.
2. Native iOS Mail, a free email client built into every Apple device.
Mail (also known as Apple Mail or Mail.app) is an email client included with the operating systems macOS, iOS and watchOS by Apple Inc. Originally developed by NeXT As NeXTMail, a part of their NeXTSTEP operating system, it eventually became Mail after Apple’s acquisition of NeXT.
3. Voice Dream Reader, a paid app By Voice Dream LLC.
Featured as Best New App in 81 countries including the United States and Apple App Store Permanent Collections in Education.
“This app is one of the best educational finds of my entire career.” – Forbes
“As a user myself and as a mother of a child with dyslexia, I am blown away by the features of Voice Dream.” – Quartz
“Voice Dream Reader is hailed by many as the best mobile text-to-speech (TTS) app.” – Examiner
Supported Document Formats
– PDF, Plain text, MS Word, MS PowerPoint, RTF, and Google Docs.
– Web articles.
– EPUB eBooks. (DRM-free books only. Kindle and iBooks are not supported.)
– Bookshare Books.
– DAISY text-based books and audiobook.
– Audiobooks in MP3, MP4 or zipped MP3 format.
– Experimental rich text and image support for all documents.
– One premium Acapela voice of your choice free with the purchase of the app.
– 36 built-in iOS voices in 27 languages are also available for free.
– 200+ additional premium voices in 30 languages from Acapela, NeoSpeech and Ivona available through in-app purchases.
– Correct pronunciation with your own pronunciation dictionary.
– All voices work offline and play in the background even with the screen locked.
– Tee-up a list of articles and play while you drive, walk or run.
– Spoken word is highlighted to improve comprehension and retention.
– Auto-scrolling and full screen, distraction-free mode to help reader focus.
– Finger reading. For beginners to read by at running a finger under each word.
– Pac-Man. Harvard and MIT developed speed-reading method for everyone to read at 2x speed with no loss of comprehension.
– High contrast and large font size for low vision readers.
– Optimized for VoiceOver, Braille and switch control.
4. Nearby Explorer, a paid GPS app By American Printing House for the Blind (APH).
Nearby Explorer is a full featured GPS app designed for use by people who are blind. Instead of just providing directions, it describes the environment in ways comparable to reading signage or observing road characteristics.
It uses onboard maps, so a data connection is not required, but if you have one, Nearby Explorer supplements the on board map data with crowd collected locations from Foursquare or Google Places. It includes complete maps for the United States and Canada which contain millions of points of interest. The onboard maps are over 4GB in size, so be sure the device you plan to use has enough available space before purchasing.
Nearby Explorer works with any device running iOS version 9 or later, but if the device does not contain its own GPS receiver, like most iPads and iPods, you must use an external GPS receiver. All iPhones contain GPS receivers.
Nearby Explorer works by letting you select from several different location related options about what to announce as you move. These include both typical items like street name and address and specialized options like approaching streets, intersection configurations, and nearby places and the distance and direction to them. (All announcements are optional.) All of this information is shown on the home screen and is available at any time, but typical use is to adjust the level of announcements, then lock the screen and put the device away. This keeps both hands free and let’s your preferred voice speak the characteristics of the environment as you move.
You may also use the devices position and orientation to obtain additional targeted details such as pointing the end of the device to scan for businesses, even in a moving vehicle, or tilting it vertically to function as a compass, including a listing of streets in the indicated direction. This all works with the device locked, so one need not fuss with the touch screen while moving. You may even mark a point, then use the position of the device to get haptic feedback about that point’s location.
Nearby Explorer includes a transit feature that provides detailed mass transit schedules for over 60 metropolitan areas in the U. S. and Canada. It treats transit stops just like favorites and points of interest by announcing their name and relative position as you move, but in addition, transit stops add next vehicle stop time, direction of travel, and route name to the announcements. You can use the transit schedules to look up times or even follow a route.
You may virtually move to any area in the U.S. or Canada and explore the road network, search, or use the transit maps for that area.
For complete details about Nearby Explorer, see http://tech.aph.org/ne
5. TuneIn Radio, a free app By TuneIn.
Listen to your favorite radio stations for free with TuneIn Radio. With over 100,000 radio stations, TuneIn has the largest selection of sports, news, music and talk radio from around the world.
With the free TuneIn Radio app:
-Stream real radio stations from around the world live.
-Listen to your favorite talk shows and podcasts live and on demand.
-Enjoy live coverage of sporting events, concerts and more.
Get even more with TuneIn Premium.
-Get live play-by-play from every MLB, NFL and BPL game, all season long.
-Let your imagination run wild with access to a library of over 40,000 audiobooks.
-Enjoy exclusive access to over 600 commercial-free music stations
-No banner ads!
-Enjoy TuneIn anywhere you go with Apple Watch.
-Try out TuneIn for CarPlay when you’re on the go.
-Enjoy TuneIn Radio at home with your Google Chromecast.
6. Native iOS Reminders, a free app built into every Apple device.
Reminders is a pretty great “getting started” app for those new to to-dos. You can use Reminders to make shopping lists or packing lists or to keep work and home organized. You can set reminders for specific times or specific locations, so you can remember to take medication when you need to, and stop by the store when you leave the office.
7. Transit, a free app By Transit App, Inc.
“You won’t realize how much time you can save planning until you use this app” – LA Times
“Killer app” – WSJ
“MBTA has a favorite transit app — and it’s called Transit” – Boston Globe
Transit is your real-time urban travel companion. Navigate your city’s public transit system with accurate real-time predictions, simple trip planning, step-by-step navigation, service disruption notifications, and departure and stop reminders… all presented in a clear, bold interface. Public transport not cooperating? Easily request an Uber, reserve a car2go, or grab the closest bike share.
10 GREAT THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH TRANSIT:
1) See real-time arrivals for nearby buses and trains instantly upon launch.
2) Watch your transit vehicle approaching on a map in real-time*
3) Compare options with powerful A to B trip plans using real-time data.
4) Launch GO for step-by-step navigation when you’re on an unfamiliar route or want to nap/read/space out.*
5) Receive departure alarms and stop notifications as well as prompts to pick up the pace in GO.*
6) Get push notifications if service disruptions will affect your commute.
7) View transit schedules and route itineraries—even when you’re offline!
8) Locate bike share stations, see the number of bikes available, pay for passes, and unlock bikes (in select cities).
9) Check ETA (and surge) for nearby Ubers, and book in two taps.
10) View availability and book cars with car2go and other local car-share services.
8. VO Calendar, a paid app By Devista B.V.
NOTE: Can only be used together with VoiceOver (for blind and partially sighted people).
VO Calendar is a weekly calendar specifically designed to be used with VoiceOver.
The result of this VoiceOver-only design is not only a smoother navigation through the app. It also makes it possible for the VoiceOver speech to give smart summaries depending on the context. This prevents you from having to go through each event Individually.
Existing events are automatically synchronized. If you prefer not to type, you can record voice memos instead.
You can use VO Calendar with the VoiceOver gestures you are used to.
However, there is an even faster way. With the screen being split into two halves you can scan the right half of the screen with your right thumb. A single tap with your left thumb then is enough to activate the concerning function. After getting used to you will find out this helps you to browse through your calendar even quicker.
The left bottom always contains the ‘Return’ button so you can still reach it with your right thumb (being an L-shaped layout). At the top left you can always find a summary of the current screen content. In case you are left-handed you can swap left and right.
Note: If you have multiple calendars configured, VO Calendar will show all concerning events. New events will be assigned to your iPhone’s default calendar. Change the default calendar in: Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Default Calendar.
VO Calendar is developed in cooperation with Royal Dutch Visio, Centre of Expertise for blind and partially sighted people (www.visio.org).
9. Bank, free apps by a variety of Canadian Banks. IE., TD Canada by TD.
The TD app for iOS provides quick, easy, secure access to your TD chequing, savings, credit, and investment accounts. By clicking “Get”, you consent to the installation of the TD app provided by the TD Bank Group* and to any future updates/upgrades. You are also acknowledging that you understand that the TD app and any future updates/upgrades will/may perform the function described below. You may withdraw your consent at any time by deleting or uninstalling this app.
The TD app is free to download, however standard wireless carrier message and data rates may apply.
- Get fast access to our most-used banking functions with Quick Links, and check account and Rewards balances without logging in by using Quick Access.
- Make TD Credit Card Account payments in fewer steps and use your Rewards to help pay down your balance.
- Send, request and receive money with INTERAC e-Transfer®.
- Make Canadian and submit U.S. bill payments. (Subject to eligibility requirements and applicable fees. Foreign exchange costs may also apply. Customer must register for the U.S. Bill Pay Service and set up payees in EasyWeb first. A U.S. dollar cheque will be mailed to the payee.)
- Access your personal banking and investing information from your Apple Watch.
- Keep track of your spending and receive real time notifications with the TD MySpend companion app.
- With TD for Me you can receive branch information, local events, offers, tips and reminders.
The TD app allows you to monitor the market, research investment ideas, and trade everything from stocks to options wherever you are!
- Act quickly on market opportunities – trade stocks, ETFs, options and multi-leg options, as well as mutual fund while on the go.
- Help protect your portfolio from market loss with stop orders.
- Stay on top of your investments with real-time holdings, balances, orders and activity.
- Keep tabs on your favourite securities with watchlists, now synced with WebBroker.
- Set mobile push notifications to receive real-time price alerts for stocks, ETFs and mutual funds.
- Make informed investment decisions with comprehensive real-time quotes and advanced charting with technical indicators available in the landscape mode.
10. CBC Radio/News, free apps by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Listen to your favourite CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Radio programs and podcasts on your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch. Enjoy Radio One and Radio 2 live streams, as well as more than 80 of CBC Radio’s most popular programs and podcasts on demand. Listen to our featured stories, curated for you every day. Browse through 12 categories, including News, Politics and Comedy. Check out archived episodes, save and download your audio for later listening. Build a playlist of your favourite clips and play them beginning to end. Sort by episode or segment. Find the local frequency for your favourite CBC Radio broadcast channel, and see what’s playing on any CBC Radio network. The CBC Radio app allows for in-app search, which allows you to search for any CBC Radio One audio from 2013 to the present. You can also continue switching to a different device and pick up your listening where you left off.
Respectfully submitted on January 5, 2018 by,
Albert A. Ruel, GTT Coordinator
For more information please contact your GTT Coordinators:
Albert Ruel or Kim Kilpatrick