Hi everyone and welcome back to Technology Reviews! I hope you’re all doing well, and that you and everyone you know are coping alright amidst this current crisis!
Back when I did my Christmas blog last year about what I got for Christmas, I mentioned that among my presents was the Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation. I also mentioned that I would be writing reviews of everything I got, but since then, I’ve had to work on background work for some stuff I’m doing when not blogging, so apologies for this coming so late.
But before I get into this, let me remind you of everywhere you can follow me. If you want to follow my personal Twitter account, that is @Phoebslyle, and if you want to follow my personal Instagram, it is: @therealphoebslyle. You can also follow Technology Reviews, and if you want to do that, the Twitter is @TechReviewsuk_, the Instagram is @technologyreviewsuk, and you can also like the Facebook page, Technology Reviews. As well as that you can also subscribe to the YouTube Channel, Technology Reviews, and follow me at Phoebs Lyle on Soundcloud, where I now post a Podcast.
But now, let’s get straight into this review!
The Amazon Echo Dot 3rd generation is the latest among Amazon Smart Speakers, and one of the cheaper models on market at the minute. Now available with a fabric design and improved speaker, it has a richer and louder sound, letting you pair it with other compatible Echo devices around your home, and share music all around!
Ready to help, Alexa is ready to play songs, answers questions, read the news, check the weather, control compatible smart home devices, set alarms, and more!!! You can voice control your smart home by using her to turn on your smart lights, to adjust your thermostat, lock doors, etc, and even play games which you can do by searching through the thousands of skills on the Alexa app. This is something I find very helpful, because I’ve been able to set Alexa up to remind me about taking my medication each day, but I think the voice control has to be improved a wee bit as it is still difficult for Alexa to understand me at times with the sound of my ventilator, and I often have to try multiple times.
Now coming with the ability to let you connect with others, you can call almost hands free from UK mobile and residential numbers (although this feature is only available in the uk at the time of writing this). With the Announcement option now added, you can also tell the other people in your household that you need something without even leaving the room, or drop in on them if they’ve got any compatible device.
Designed to protect your privacy, the Echo Dot 3 is built with multiple layers of privacy protection and control, including a Microphone Off button that electronically disconnects the microphones. You can also do this in the settings in your Alexa app, but I won’t get in to the settings in this blog, but I might do it in a different one.
You can also use Alexa to play soundtracks and playlists on Amazon and Apple Music, Spotify, TuneIn, BBC Radio, Downtown etc.
So what do I think about the Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation so far? I think the speaker is a lot better than the first generation, and even – although I didn’t have one – the 2nd – and I can hear it from long distances away, so I don’t think you would need to buy any other speakers unless that’s something you really think you want to do. The new fabric design is also very nice, and I find myself most of the time, if not playing music, listening to radio or enjoying any of the other features, just playing games. I really like the quizzes! But on a not so good note, I think the voice control still needs to be improved so it can recognise people who have a quieter voice or are talking with air in the background, as that would make it even more accessible. But other than that, I think it’s great!
Selling for £49.99 but on sale at the minute and at various other times of the year, the Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation is available in Charcoal Fabric (black), Heather Grey Fabric (Grey), Plum Fabric (Pink), and there is now a new Sandstone Fabric as well.
Since getting that post out, I’ve also managed to set up a few more social medias for this blog. You can still follow me on my personal Twitter account: @Phoebslyle, or on my personal Instagram account: therealphoebslyle. But if you want to follow my business Instagram for here, it is: technologyreviewsuk, and the Twitter is @TechReviewsUK_. You may have also seen I’ve been starting work on a new Podcast for Technology Reviews, which you can find by searching for Phoebs Lyle on Soundcloud.
So if you’ve been keeping an eye on my personal Twitter account, you’ll have seen that on 8th January, I celebrated my 22nd birthday. As well as the Turtle Beach headset _ which was featured in my Christmas blog but was actually meant to be for my birthday _ I got a lot of other stuff, as well as a new Blue Snowball ICE to replace the one I thought I lost but only ended having lost the cable _ which I will review as soon as I get through a whole lot of other ones.
I got up at half ten, and then got a lift up to VR City _ where I was booked in for 12 o, clock. I had a brilliant time, and after I finished, I got a Subway for lunch, before coming back home for 4. My full thoughts on my day at VR City are below.
VR City is a Virtual Reality arcade at Cityside, Northern Ireland _ offering Single and Multiplayer games, and doing experiences for ages 7+. You have a choice of 8 VR Stations _ 4 VR machines _ including a VR futuristic bike; Spacepods; a shotgun and a race car _ or 4 VR Booths _ and over 280 games! They have accessibility options available, and great wheelchair access, as well as sensory options. But I think there’s a good amount of accessibility they still need to improve on.
You get a lot of different types of games, but how accessible these are, at the minute, depends on your level of disability. I spent most of my time playing the Roller Coaster games, which you get access to by the Spacepods. They include small and big Roller Coasters, and even a Ghost Train one where various ghouls jump up at your face, but what I liked about them is how I was able to control them by moving my head. These made them feel more realistic and more creepier.
Later on, I got to try a Shooter one, but I didn’t enjoy it as much, as there was no way for me to control it using accessible controls. This is where I feel that Virtual Reality in general needs to try harder in including disabled people, which should be becoming easier with the rise in popularity of accessible controllers. First of all, you need to install a hoist so that wheelchair dependent people can get from their chairs to whichever VR Machine _ even if it’s not an overhead one, but one on wheels _ which I would prefer. But you also need to research into accessible controls for those who come in and need accessibility options, because not every wheelchair dependent person can play games in the same way as their able bodied peers. Such options could include voice control, head controls, or even accessible switches, but I am more than happy to give advice on what all is out there and what would be easier.
Nonetheless, I was able to play a large variety of games for when I was there, and the staff were very, very nice. But with just a few more adjustments, it could be even better.
Either way, I enjoyed my time, and overall, I will give VR CityX ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.
Hi guys and welcome back to Technology Reviews! Before I get started, I’d like to explain some things going on with the updates, and what the future of this blog will be like. So before and after Christmas, I found I was worrying too much about meeting a Thursday and Friday deadline, and this meant I wasn’t able to brainstorm new ideas or fully research and take in everything which I was reviewing. And as well as this, I’ve had other commitments as far as writing goes. So for now, I’m just blogging when I feel I have something new _ but my usual reviews of accessible technology and top most accessible games and apps will still be coming. So after this blog, I will send out a out one reviewing what I did for my 22nd birthday on 8th January, but I don’t know when I will get anything out after.
But before anything else let’s get in to this blog.
It may not seem like it, but Technology has changed in a lot of ways over the years, and thanks to this, it is now an every day part of our lives. New inventions seem to be coming out every year, and with a lot of more smart technologies, they all seem to be becoming accessible. But as much as it’s interesting to look into the future, it is also interesting to look back on years past, and see how the technology of our past has shaped what we have now. So _ even though this New Year blog is a few weeks late _ I will look at technology we had in 2009, and what we had/have in 2019/20.
These tiny, low-priced, lower power PCs were the tech product story of 2009, but also a mixed blessing for PC makers and consumers. While hardware manufacturers were thrilled to have a hit on their hands, the computers generally had razor-thin profit margins, and the consumers who bought these laptops got cheap, super light computers that frequently run old operating systems, lack optical drives, and are far slower than they’d otherwise expect on a desktop or full sized laptop.
Phones that Navigate
In 2009, GPS companies were becoming weary of the mobile phone. That year, the iPhone became capable of handling turn-by-turn auto navigation programs, and Google released free turn-by-turn navigation for Androids. This meant phones could easily update their maps and databases over the internet _ not great news for GPS companies. Now, in 2020, we can travel to places using GPS apps on our phones, and it is funny thinking of the arguments this brought up now.
Though digital 3D movies had been around for a couple of years at the time, its widespread adoption had been knocked back by a stalemate: Studios were reluctant to invest in big-budget 3D movies that would only play on a number of screens, and without a balanced stream of 3D movies, cinema-owners were reluctant to install such screens.
Although the App Store was originally released in 2008, by 2009 it had a hundred-thousand apps available for download. Taking inspiration from Apple’s success, Android _ as well as BlackBerry and Palm _ took to developing their own app stores, which would all get up over the following months and years.
Android in Everything
The Android phone first came out in 2008, and it spent 2009 as a niche platform tied to a single phone and carrier. Then, at some other point in 2009, it exploded across manufacturers and carriers, and soon began popping in to non-phone devices, such as the Barnes & Noble Nook e-book reader, and a tablet made by Archos.
iPad and Other Members of Tablet Revolution
It may not seem like it’s now 10 years ago, but the 2010 tech scene started with the then-new, iPad. For web browsing, ebook reading, games and office work, the iPad automatically had manufacturers trying to prove they could beat it with their own prototypes _ in a way that it isn’t surprising now that the iPad has so many models.
The iPhone may only have been 3 years old in 2010, but it was already the smartphone trendsetter that everyone wanted to beat. When the fourth model arrived, the big features were the Selfie camera and Retina Screen, but it was still very small. It stayed big until the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 _ which were available in optional colours _ but it’s still good to look back on.
Yes, the iPhone, in most cases, was running ahead, but it was competing against Android phones like the Droid II, the Droid X, and the Samsung Galaxy S _ to name but a few _ while the BlackBerry was also trying to get on the touchscreen stage. The iPhone and Samsung also had to compete against the Windows phone _ launched by Microsoft _ and there’s now many other phones who have joined the stage _ so everything’s getting tighter.
3D and Smart TVs
With the rise in popularity of 3D movies, it was obvious the next step would be to add it into TVs. But not only was 3D added to TVs. This was also when television developers looked to adding in the web and other streaming services into their products. In 2007, Apple released the Apple TV, but it mostly languished until it was rebooted with a major price out. In addition with Netflix, it already let people buy tv shows for cheap, and Google began promoting a similar system, with work starting on the Google TV.
The Streaming Revolution is Born
In 2010, people were just being introduced to services like Netflix, but the usual home was still getting used to the idea of new Blue-Ray DVDs, or other DVDs they had hiding around. But as the idea of subscribing for a mix of movies got bigger _ instead of having to go out and buy or rent a DVD _ we slowly got to where we are now, when very few people use DVDs anymore.
Xbox Kinect and PS MOVE
With the launch of the popular Nintendo Wii in 2006 _ using motion sensor controllers instead of a handheld one _ Microsoft and Sony were left to come up with their own alternatives. Although I never had one _ due to the controller not being accessible _ the Kinect was a camera add on for the Xbox that saw a player’s movements and converted their gestures and running-in-place movements into the game. The PS Move, meanwhile, consisted of two motion control wands and an accompanying motion sensor camera.
Social Media on Smartphone
Scrolling through your Facebook feed or tweeting a selfie used to be incredibly difficult in 2010. Those social platforms were still largely experiences designed for your PC. With the iPhone and Android universes still comparatively small, the mobile experience for Facebook and Twitter was barebones, fisted or both. This is probably why _ while Facebook had a mobile app out in 2008 _ it took years for it to get to a reasonable state on usability.
Group Texting Grows in Popularity
2011 began with a handful of group texting applications becoming more mainstream _ including Beluga, which became Facebook Messenger _ and GroupMe _ which was acquired by Skype, and became Skype Messenger. Later on, WhatsApp joined the group messaging stage _ launching with a free texting element _ which stuck with its users.
Social Networks Continued to Explode
Google launched Google Plus, which grew quickly, Facebook revamped their profiles and features, and launched their iPad app, while Twitter evolved their own activities, and Instagram exploded, with millions using it to post million of photos each day. This meant people could post photos and videos on the go, instead of having to always log in on computers.
Gadgets that make social networking easier
A slew of new gadgets that made social networking and social media more easy to access from anywhere started taking place. Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Sony Tablet S and Amazon Kindle products entered the market, blurring the line between e-readers and their tablets. Beyond tablets, Apple _ in the aftermath of the loss of its founder, Steve Jobs _ saw success with the iPad Air, as well as showing hands free ways of socialising with Siri, and with the release of the iPhone 4S.
Pinterest becomes new social graph
By 2012, Social Media had really taken ground. People were passed the early social media giants, MySpace and Bebo, and the only early social networking site that stayed popular was video-sharing, YouTube.
Then, in the same year, Pinterest became a major traffic generator. The site quickly overtook Yahoo, Twitter and Bing, and was just behind Google and Facebook. Its format _ where you can view colourful photos of unique gift items and crafts, and share pictures with each other _ made it possible with many businesses, who could use Pinterest boards to help their sales.
Touch Screen Computers
Many companies promised touch computers would take over small businesses, influenced by the tablet revolution that had grown massively within a couple of years. Most things were done through touch technology, so it was clear the craze was becoming real. Later in 2012 we saw the Windows 8 released, along with Acer touch computers and Lenovo. I’ve never tried one, but my concern about touchscreen laptops is how you have to be able to reach your arm out, which doesn’t make them accessible for paralysed people like myself, or have other physical disabilities. However, while many businesses jumped on the touchscreen computer cart, others, like Apple, are still to do this _ and I think Apple keeping their MacBooks like this is a better plan _ though my hope for 2020 on is they start trying to get Face ID into their laptops.
Screen resolution goes through the roof
The iPad 4 with Retina display had a slim and sleek design, and was powered by a 1.4 GHz Apple A6X processor. After it was launched in 2012, it was sold to adapt to your needs with maximum performance. But the extended battery life wasn’t too much to compare it with if you used it every day, and like other screen technology of the day, the new screen size would be laughable if you compared it with today’s screens _ even the 11″ iPad Pro I have! The Google Nexus 10 tablet also used 2000 pixels, and had a bigger screen than its earlier models. That meant every image, every line of text, and every website looked more distinct, and over the next few years, they all kept getting better.
BlackBerry had had problem for many years, and while it hoped to still have a chance to get a place in the next stage of smartphones, others like the iPhone and Samsung were still beating it. It was known as being easily breakable, with multiple bending into curves, and I don’t recall people who had it saying the hardware lasted ages. So with this, the BlackBerry slowly headed into the Abyss, and died.
Second Screen Resolution
In 2013, more than 80% of smartphone and tablet owners said they used their devices while watching tv, 51% posted on social media while watching tv to connect with others who might be watching the same thing, and 24% of Facebook users posted the movies they were watching. The figures are bound to be up now, but at the time, people said this showed the second-screen had arrived but it wasn’t yet a revolution _ though, I’d say we’re nearly there now. Following a 2013 review, media companies and marketers got more aggressive and inventive in how they dealt with the second-screen, with one reporting that engagement is stronger with second-screen marketing programs than traditional online advertising.
Death of Desktop Computers
With the launch of Windows 8 came the dumping of old desktop computers. When Windows 10 came out, it had a mirror-like setup of 200 or so Surface tablets, and highlighted the lack of traditional computers running Windows 10. You could get laptops and tablets and All-in-One PCs, but although these tried to kill Desktop computers off completely, a lot of businesses, schools and some households still have them.
It had in fact been round a lot longer _ but with it being used in various films like Iron Man 2 _ 3D printing was becoming more mainstream. It was still young, but businesses could already create prototypes, changing how different design processes worked. With more durable materials and improved hardware and software, it became possible to manufacture products with 3D printers. This had the potential to change entire supply chains and distribution, and in a way, they have.
TVs; computers; tablets; and phones all get thinner with each release, and in 2013, we were already thinking of more flexible and foldable devices. But warnings came up everywhere of people saying companies should make sure by folding a device, it doesn’t break, and as a result, there were a lot of failed experiments. This saw the foldable devices being put on hold, and so, the first foldable devices were only out in 2018/19. But still, some companies are still in the research and developing stage, with Apple planning to release its foldable phone either this year or next year.
But to date, we already have the Galaxy Folds, as well as the more expensive foldable computers.
Embedded Technology (or technology with smarts built in)
Embedded technology may not have made it into the iPhone 5 (2013’s new Apple Phone), but traditional objects with smarts inside them was still a talking point… and happening. Back then, Geeks had to sell the idea of door handles opening by themselves, blinds closing without you having to do anything, and thermostats learning what makes you comfortable to people outside technology, yet, in 2019 and 2020, we’re now able to set these up.
Another point worth mentioning is that robots were starting to become more popular in 2013, and now we have our household machines acting like robots themselves. But as technology grew in 2013, so came problems with Data. At one point it seemed like technology was going to know everything about you, and that held way for what all happened in 2014.
Smart watches like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and the Pebble Smart Watch continued to be more useful ass developers created more apps for the device. Health-tracking devices like Nike’s Fuel Brand, Jawbone Up and Fitbit Force continue to drive health technology into the mainstream _ and it’s because of this, we’ve seen a growth in a population wanting to track their heart rates. But still, Apple didn’t end up moving like this until it released the Apple Watch in 2015.
Machines in the Sky
Yes! 2014 was the year of the Drone. Although they’d started gaining attention in 2013, it took 2014 for things to get a bit more exciting. Jeff Bezos _ Amazon’s CEO _ planned to use drones to deliver packages from Amazon in 30 minutes, and in 2013, Drones were said to be able to deliver beer and pizza to your home if you live in the UK. But such good ideas did come with their problems: with customers becoming worried that their amazon order might get dropped on their head, and when a drone interrupted flights at Belfast airports.
Smart TVs grew in popularity, with more homes having the option to browse the internet, launch apps and have social interactions _ all through their TVs. Plans began for TVs in future to be controlled by Smart Home devices, which is now possible with the release of smart speakers. Thanks to the releases of these devices in 2017, we’re now able to control our TVs with voice, and we can also control them with apps on our phones.
A fight for privacy
After a year when Data could be breached in lots of ways and there was almost no way to decide what you wanted to be kept private, it was no wonder that by 2014, there was a fight for privacy. This led to the privacy settings we have when surfing the web today, which made technology a whole lot _ though not completely _ safer.
Saving to the cloud started in 2011, and by 2015, the convergence of cloud and mobile computing continued to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. This made working on stuff through different apps and on multiple devices easier, as a team or by yourself.
3D Printing Grows
Advances in 3D printing had already enabled 3D printers to use a wide range of materials, and with the growth came more demand. Now, in 2020, jobs in 3D printing and 3D printers themselves are continuing to grow, but we’re still a long way from them being affordable enough for loads of people to be able to get them for their homes.
Advanced Machine Learning
This one I think we can agree is not one of the best technologies, but it’s worth mentioning anyhow. Machine learning is meant to be the technological way of making decisions, though it often doesn’t make the right ones. Since its release, there have been numerous attempts to fix these problems, but as things stand, it isn’t too close to get things right.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now all around us, yet if we were told about what all we have in 2009, we wouldn’t have believed it. Near enough everything around us can be automated, including apps; drones; autonomous vehicles and smart appliances, which are rumoured to help the environment. Our TVs can now get turned on with AI, and we can now have full conversations with our technology.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual and Augmented Reality are 2 digital platforms _ one which makes you feel like you’re in a video game _ and the other which lets you put digital elements into a real life world, often using a phone camera. These capabilities aimed on forming a more seamless system of devices capable of orchestrating a flow of information that comes from the user.
Internet of Things becomes more intelligent
It had been around and was being talked about for a few years at this point, but the Internet of Things is the place where all the every day smart devices we have live, like Smart Lights etc. More things have been added to it since smart speakers like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomePod were created, which adds to it becoming even more intelligent.
Xbox Adaptive Controller
I’ve talked about the Xbox Adaptive Controller on here before, and it is basically an Xbox controller aimed towards people with physical disabilities. Microsoft announced it around Easter 2018, before releasing it just before Christmas that year, leading to it being widely used in 2019.
Internet of Things will deliver new opportunities
A number of smart devices that can connect to the internet came out in the last year, making the Internet of Things get even bigger. We can now control a number of our every-day home devices by connecting them to the internet, and more will be added through this year and beyond.
AR is Expected to overcome VR
Thanks to games like Pokemon Go and Minecraft Earth, the AR craze has quickly blown up. Augmented Reality is when you add digital elements to the real world using your phone or tablet camera, while Virtual Reality is when you put a headset over your eyes, making you feel like you’re in a game. But if AR is going to beat VR, there’s just one thing I think developers should be aware of. For me, it’s hard to play an AR game while out in my wheelchair, and while Minecraft Earth is a lot more accessible that Pokemon Go, developers still need to think how they can open AR games up to the disabled and elderly community, while also keeping us safe.
While it’s still too early to tell completely what 2020’s technology stage will be like, there are a few early predictions. For starters; we’re due to see a breakout moment of AI; practical deployment of the Internet of Things; increased demand for edge computing processing; and evolution of Aerospace technologies, as well as a new era of the internet; of healthcare; of agriculture; and an evolution of autonomous driving technology. But overall, I would say my top technology moment from just over the last decade was when the Adaptive Controller was announced, as part of other adaptive devices, and to open devices up to disabled children, young adults and adults, as well as the elderly. I just hope that we can move quicker towards making everything accessible, than it took us to get to this point.
Hi guys and welcome back to Technology Reviews. I’d like to start this blog by wishing all of you a merry Christmas and happy new year, and hope you’ve all had as good a time with your families as I’ve had with mine. But in this, I am going to unbox most of the stuff I got for Christmas, which there will be reviews of in the next few weeks. But if you like what you’re seeing here, don’t forget to like, comment, and share with your family and friends, and if you haven’t done already, follow this blog.
TURTLE BEACH STEALTH 600
Turtle Beach Stealth 600 is a wireless gaming headset for Xbox, and can also connect to compatible Windows computers from Windows 10+. Officially licensed for Xbox One, it is the first headset to connect directly to the console, and delivers powerfully immersive Windows Sonic Surround Sound, increased comfort and more. You can connect your Stealth 600 gaming headset directly to your Xbox One without using a cable, in the same way your wireless controller connects to the console. Xbox Wireless automatically configures the headset’s connection, so just turn on the headset and start playing.
SEAGATE HARD DRIVE FOR XBOX ONE
The Seagate Hard Drive lets you save many of the games you got through an Xbox Live Gold membership or Game Pass to the hard drive, which plugs directly into your console. This is something I found I needed more so in the last few months as with the more games I got, I had to delete other ones when I ran out of space.
Xbox Elite Series 2
The Xbox Elite Controller is one of the newest controllers released by Xbox _ being released on November 4th 2019 _ and has now brought round a whole new type of Elite controllers. Like it’s earlier editions, the Elite Controller Series 2 is also customisable, and has interchangeable d-pads, interchangeable thumbsticks, paddles and a thumbstick adjustment tool. I promised I wasn’t going to go in to a review-styled voice, but I think it’s worth mentioning that I think the design is brilliant because _ as I said in my review of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, the d-pad on the Adaptive Controller is hard for me to press _ so if the circular d-pad turns out to be unaccessible, then I can change it to the other one. But also _ although I haven’t gamed with it yet _ I have tried using the buttons and sticks, and the sticks especially are A LOT nicer than the ones on the proper Xbox controller.
ADJUSTABLE STAND FOR ECHO DOT 3RD GENERATION
This adjustable stand is specifically designed for the Echo Dot 3rd Generation, lets music get rid of the limitation of place and makes your living room or bedroom full of wonderful music.
It fits perfectly all new Echo Dot 3rd generations, frees up counter space and eliminates long cable trouble, the hook clips are designed to lock your Echo Dot securely while not blocking any sound or even the blue light ring, and makes it easy to move around your home.
ECHO DOT 3RD GENERATION HEATHER GREY FABRIC
Amazon’s most popular smart speaker, the new Amazon Echo Dot is the newest Echo Dot in that range of smart Alexa speakers, and is now available in 3 different fabric designs. It also has an improved and louder speaker.
You can now voice control your music, and stream songs from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, TuneIn, BBC Radio and more! You can also listen to Audiobooks from Audible and play Podcasts.
Compared to the 1st and 2nd Echo Dots, the speaker on the 3rd gen is a lot better, and you can pair it with other Echo devices for shared audio across different rooms.
You can ask Alexa to do everything, from asking her to play music, answer questions, read the news, tell you the whether, setting alarms, and more. Alexa also lets you connect with others, call almost anyone hands free, including UK mobile and residential numbers (UK only), send announcements to other Echo devices in your home, and use the Alexa app and call on Skype. With dozens of skills, she is only getting smarter, and she can also control your smart home accessories.
I got a lot of other presents other than the 4 in this blog, including an Oral B electric toothbrush, a smart plug, a kindle, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniels calendar, a super drive, a cook book, 2 video games, theatre tickets, art pens and my favourite of all of them _ a smart backpack! But like I said at the start, all of my technology presents will be getting reviewed in the next few weeks, so again, I hope you’ve all had a lovely Christmas, and have a nice new year!
The Top Games of the Month were released on December 11th, but while these games will have been judged on downloads, I will judge them on accessibility.
All the games mentioned in this blog are free to download.
No 9: Bake a Cake
Bake a Cake Recipes and Puzzles is a game developed by Nordcurrent UAB, and suitable for players 4+.
Snowflakes dance in the air, houses are decorated with twinkling lights, and gifts are wrapped under the tree! And this means it’s time to celebrate Christmas!
In it you play as Rachael, as you complete puzzles to help bake a cake, and meet other characters.
To play this game you just have to be able to tap and slide. Clearing the board is easy to do, but it is sometimes very hard to tap a button, so for this reason I’ll give it 4 stars.
No 8: Ice Crush 2020
Ice Crush 2020 is a Puzzle game by Kudo Games, and suitable for players 4+.
In it, you work to clear over a 1000 levels, with new ones being added each week.
This game follows many of the same controls as Bake a Cake _ so being able to play it is no problem _ but you don’t play as a specific character. But there are a lot of similarities between it and Candy Crush, so if you’re looking for something different, you might be left disappointed. And it also crashes a lot.
So I will give Ice Crush 2020 3 stars.
No 7: Sweet Hearts
Sweet Hearts is a game developed by SmileyGamer BVBA, and suitable for players 4+.
Celebrate St Valentine with Cupid’s cute candy matching game. This game features no less than 2400 relaxing and challenging levels.
The controls in this game are the same as the other ones, and to play you just have to be able to tap and swipe.
So overall I will give Sweet Hearts 5 stars.
No 6: Tasty Treats
Enter the sweetest adventure and travel through magical lands of treats, mixing, matching and finding treats for your furry friends. Make the most delicious combinations and get through challenging levels full of fun! Smash fruits together and match the rarest treats to feed your animal friends!
To play Tasty Treats you just have to be able to tap and slide, making it suitable for most physical disabilities. So I will give it 5 stars.
No 5: Candy Charming
CandyCharming is a game by 707 Interactive, and suitable for ages 4+.
Exploring magical Candy kingdoms, you’ll be helping the lovely candy fairy to match and crush candies and sugars to unlock further gameplay.
To play Candy Charming you just have to be able to tap and slide, so for this reason I’ll give it 5 stars.
No 4: Bee Brilliant Blast
Bee Brilliant Blast is a game by Tactile Games ApS, and suitable for players 4+.
In this game we go back to the world of beeland, and join the singing Babees, the crazy Busy Bees and the cheeky spiders in another puzzle game! Get ready to blast colourful tiles, make brilliant combos, and have some buzz-tactic fun! Find your inner puzzle bee and join a new beedazzling adventure!
Bee Brilliant Blast features:
Easy addictive puzzle gameplay!
Travel through Beeland and play multiple different game modes in hundreds of addictive levels
Lots of crazy bees
Lots of different game modes
A lifetime supply of bee puns
To play Bee Brilliant Blast all you have to do is tap, which makes it accessible to people who can only use one finger at a time.
No 3: Bubble Shooter
Bubble Shooter is a game by Fapps World et Cie S.E.C.S, and suitable for players 4+.
Enjoy hours of fun with this classic Bubble Shooter game.
Match 3 or more bubbles of the same colour to make them disappear and get some points.
The score you get increases with the number of bubbles you make disappear at the same time, and the game also includes special bonus bubbles for an enhanced strategic gameplay.
Bonus bubbles include:
2x score: doubles the score you get when the connected bubbles disappear
3x score: doubles the score you get when the connected bubbles disappear
Score Bonus: you get an additional score bonus
Bomb: the surrounding bubbles explode
Pause: the bubbles don’t fall down anymore for some time
Slow down: the balls fall down slower than normal for some time
Move up: all the bubbles move up one line
To play this game you just have to drag and tap, so for this reason, I’ll give it 5 stars.
No 2: Block! Triangle Puzzle: Tangram
Are you ready to build with rainbow triangles? Arrange shapes made up of triangles to fill up each kind of shape and design.
Block! Triangle Puzzle: Tangram is a game by BitMango for players 4+. To play you just have to drag shapes into a grid and drop, but the shapes can’t be rotated. This makes it accessible to most physical disabilities, so I will give it 5 stars.
No 1: Tropicats
Tropicats is a game by Wooga, and suitable for players 4+.
An amazing adventure game where you get to solve puzzles while building and decorating a tropical island.
Like others on this list, Tropicats is a tap and swipe game, which is like the earlier ones on this list. You can come across all different cats as you complete more and more levels, and for this it is getting 5 stars.
The 2019 list for best Apps and Games on iPhone was released a few weeks ago, and while that will have been scored on views of purchases and downloads, I am going to score them on a view of which is more accessible. A quick warning though that I’ve only been able to try out the free or cheap ones, but a full list will be included at the end.
1: Sky Children of the Light
Sky: Children of the Light is a Family game suitable for players 9+ and developed by Thatgamecompany. In it, you play as the children of the light, spreading hope through the desolate kingdom to return fallen stars to their constellations.
In the Kingdom of sky you can:
Soar and explore 7 dreamlike realms to discover the mystery
Encounter and socialise with likeminded players around the world
Use character customisation
Team up with others to travel into darker realms
Gift candles of light to share appreciation and grow friendships
Enjoy a unique musical experience and create harmonies of your own
Join an ever-expanding world with new upcoming attractions, including seasonal events and expanding of realms
To play this game you just have to turn by sliding left and right on your screen, move by using an on screen joystick, fly by pressing a button _ which if you press it enough let’s you get higher, and therefore fly at a higher distance _ and to accept stuff you just tap.
As far as the story in the game goes, it really depends on what type of games you’re in to, but as far as accessibility is concerned, I will give it 5 stars.
Apps No 1: Flow
Flow is an app developed by Moleskine, and gives the user an all new way of drawing simple pictures and taking notes on iPhone and iPad. It can be used by amateurs and professionals, and has been built for creators from the ground up, offering you dozens of combinations of paper, colours and tools. And if you’re using an Apple Pencil or a stylus, Flow feels as responsive as it would if you were drawing on real paper.
Flow is vital in finding your creative potential. In this version you can even create your own tools, and you get a choice of 5 colours, which can also be edited.
Features available in Flow are:
Infinite width documents for uninterrupted creation
Create your own unique set of tools
Dark and light paper with dot grid, squared, lined or blank styles
Customisable gestures, including double tap for Apple Pencil
Collections for organising your creations
Hideable interface so you can stay focused
Export with configurable options like transparency and lasso area
Drag and drop documents to Timepage to store creations in your calendar
Multitask on iPad with Split View, Slide Over and Drag and Drop
Membership with flow includes realtime cloud storage and backup for your documents and tools.
I’ve found this app accessible enough, but _ as is the case with a lot of these apps _ I’m not sure how I feel about having to use 2 fingers to rotate a drawing. Although this is largely still a problem with Apple, I think Developers need to be aware that there are people who can only use one finger, and until this problem is addressed there’s no way I can give it a full 5 stars.
There is also a problem in that when you sign up to the Membership, it is hard to slide the screen down.
So therefore, I will give Flow 4 stars.
Apps No 2: The Explorers
The Explorers is a planet through photos and videos app by The Explorers Network, and which can be downloaded for free and is suitable for ages 17+.
After signing up you can contribute by sending photos and videos, and win the opportunity to take part in upcoming expeditions. You can also look through other photos and videos which have been put up all over the world.
Like Flow, this app is accessible to an extent, but it is still hard to slide down when creating your account. So I will give The Explorers 4 stars.
So fitting in to my number 3 spot is The Explorers, Flow is at number 2 and Sky is at number 1.
All of these apps and games are available to download for free, but the full list _ including ones you pay for _ are below.
While some of the games are accessible enough for people with physical disabilities, there are still ones which are non-accessible. In this blog I will give a list of 5 games available for download on Apple Arcade which are not accessible.
No 5: Marble It Up: Mayhem
Marble It Up: Mayhem is a multiplayer game by The Marble Collection, and for 1-10 players and suitable for people 4+. In this next chapter to games such as Marble It Up and Marble Blast, you will embrace the intuitive and chaotic multiplayer modes, and hunt gems, tag your friends, and prove your marble mettle online! Roll through a beautiful designed single player campaign _ with dangerous obstacles, mind-bending paths, shifting gravity, and potent power-ups _ and grow your magnificent collection of marbles and trials!
To play this game on Mac you have to use W, A, S, D, Space, and Mouse _ and to get on to a new platform you have jump and go forward, using 2 buttons. There’s no option to change these controls as far as I know to have something like auto jump, or double click a specific button to be able to get on a new platform _ which would allow gamers who can’t play the same as everyone else feel involved.
For this reason, I will give Marble It Up: Mayhem 1 star.
No 4: Hotlava
Hotlava is a multiplayer Action game for 1-4 players by Klei, and suitable for ages 4+. In this game you are tasked to run, jump and climb across nostalgia-packed environments with hot molten lava covering the floor, and try not to land on it!
Like what I said about Marble It Up Mayhem, the problem with jumping in Hotlava is having to press 2 buttons at one time, which I, and many others, find difficult _ if not impossible _ to do! I can’t figure out any way of changing the settings to being more accessible, and the only good thing is the character jumps slightly higher _ allowing people with quick movements to take the time they need to move, but by disadvantaging those who can’t!
So like Marble It Up, I will give Hotlava 1 star.
No 3: Shinsekai Into The Depths
Shinsekai Into The Depths is a single player Action game created by Capcom, and suitable for players 4+. It presents a fresh and original underwater exploration game, filled with unique visual and audio experiences.
In it, the land has slowly but steadily been covered with ice, forcing man kind to take refuge in the ocean. But even the sea can’t protect them forever! The ice overtakes the undersea home of a lone aquanaut, forcing an unplanned journey of exploration and discovery. Take control and follow a mysterious mechanical creature ever deeper.
The problem with this game is again when you have to jump and move forward using 2 buttons, but while this is still a problem, it is more accessible than other games on this list. There isn’t the fear of dying with only one click, and you can double click to go higher, and then press W to go forward if you can move quickly. But no matter how high you can choose for your character to go, having to press another button quickly still excludes people move as quick _ which is why I will give it 3 stars.
No 2: Ufo On Tape
UFO On Tape is a single player Action game for players ages 9+ and developed by Revolutionary Concepts.
What would you do if a real UFO descended from the clouds? Would you run screaming, or would you grab your phone and start recording?
Exclusive to Apple Arcade, UFO on Tape puts you in the hot seat as you speed through the countryside, looking out for visitors from outer space.
While on the contrary this game would be accessible _ as to play it your only moving a mouse and clicking if your playing on Mac, or scanning and tapping on iPhone and iPad, it’s been placed at number 2 on this list due to everything happening so fast. There’s no option to slow how fast the UFO moves, and by the time you move and click, it’s hard to keep it up each time the UFO moves.
So for this reason, I will give UFO on Tape 3 stars.
No 1: Redout: Space Assault
Redout: Space Assault is a single player action game by 34BigThings, and suitable for ages 12+.
You play as Leon Barret, ace fighter pilot of the Poseidon Security Forces at Poseidon Corp, are put in control of a Super Orbital Recon Fighter during the 2395 Colonisation of Mars!
To play this game you have to use W, A, S, D, Space and mouse, but after playing it on my Mac I found that I spent most of my time pressing space, and not being able to do anything else. The problem I find is how fast you have to play, and it doesn’t give you enough time to press anything else.
So based on that, I will give Redout: Space Assault 1 star.
As mentioned in previous blogs, I like Apple Arcade, but the fact that most of these games are non accessible to people with physical disabilities means more has to be done. Apple already lets you buy switches, and also change settings to make your device more accessible, so I don’t know why they didn’t say to the developers of these games that there needed to be other options. I would also like to say that it might also be worth Apple copying other examples and create some type of adaptable controller.
Hi guys and welcome back for another review! Sorry I didn’t update last week or last night _ I was suffering from the Winter bug and last night just wasn’t going to plan. But I will be updating again tomorrow, and all the videos for last few weeks will be uploaded as soon as possible.
So as promised, this post is all about the top 5 most accessible games on Apple Arcade. For those of you who don’t know, Apple Arcade is a subscription hub from Apple, where you can download and play out-rolling games with no additional adds or costs. You get all this for just £4:99 a month, and after signing up you get 1 month free! So if you are a gamer and you haven’t done this already, go on to the app store on your iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, and sign up.
No 5: Sonic Racing
Sonic Racing is a multiplayer racing game developed by SEGA, and suitable for players 9+. It lets the player take control of fifteen playable characters from the Sonic universe, and compete in the ultimate multiplayer racing experience. While racing you can collect power-ups, set traps and attack competitors as you drive at high speed!
You can decide how you want to play _ and enjoy single player mode, play with your friend or go big with players online in multiplayer mode! Sonic Racing also lets you create your team _ with each character having its own unique advantage and special Team Ability. There are 15 tracks in total _ each split across 5 zones _ and Wisps are back! These 15 spectacular creatures are here to offer help when overcoming rival teams _ and you get more rewards the more you race!
If I was judging Sonic Racing on how accessible it is on iPhone or iPad, I would give it 4 stars. But moving around and pressing multiple buttons makes it harder to do on Mac, and if you can only use one finger, you crash A LOT! I don’t find it too difficult on iPhone or iPad because I can move my head to select wisps quickly, but this wouldn’t help someone who can’t move as quickly. For this reason, I will give it 3 stars.
No 4: Agent Intercept
Agent Intercept is a single player Action game developed by PikPok, and suitable for players 12+. In it you play as an agent, challenging international agents for the top spot! With a brand new Current Crisis to sink Uko’s sub _ you now get refined steering and improved gameplay.
I’ve only played this game on Mac _ and though I do like it _ I think it has many of the same problems as Sonic Racing. Unless you have a lot of movement, it is very hard to steer the car, so I would like if this could be sorted. Meanwhile, I will give this game 4 stars.
No 3: What The Golf
What The Golf is a single player action game, and suitable for ages 9+. In the words of Apple, it is the golf game for people who hate golf. A silly physics-based golf parody where every golf course is a new surprising type of golf. it adds an amusing spin to the game _ where you will be asking yourself: WHAT THE GOLF.
I’ve only played What The Golf on Mac, but to play you just have to be able to move a mouse and click. For this reason, I will give it a massive 5 stars.
No 2: Pac-Man Party
Pac-Man Party Royale is a multiplayer family game for 1-4 players, developed by Bandai Namco Entertainment, and suitable for ages 4+. A play on the classic game, you can battle your friends both locally and online, playing in hope of being the last Pac-Man standing.
To play this game on Mac, you have to use the 4 arrow keys, but to do it on mobile or on iPad, you just use your finger. If you are aware of or have experience playing Pac-Man, you know how fast you have to go, but this could be hard for some players _ especially the further you get.
But since it’s accessible for fast one-handed play, I will give it 5 stars.
No 1: Grindstone
Grindstone is a single player puzzle game by Capybara games, and suitable for ages 12+.
A sword-slashing puzzle battle, Grindstone is a similar game to others in the board clearing puzzle world. Grindstone Mountain has been overrun with vicious Creeps _ who you have to slay to make your way up its treacherous peak where fortune, glory (and death) await!
Grindstone is another game which only requires you to move a mouse and click, which is why I’ve put it in my number 1 spot with 5 stars!
Apple Arcade is a new subscription service from Apple _ where Apple has joined forces with some of the world’s most visionary developers to give you unlimited access to over 100 games, rolling out over the next few months! Apple’s plan is to push the boundaries and make it possible to create the games of your dreams _ which you can download for free with one cheap bundle!
There are a range of games and genres available _ including ones like Shinsekai of the Deep; Sonic Racing; and loads of other genres like Puzzles!
With Apple Arcade you have access to literally every type of game, and with multiplayer options as well! Most of the games I find accessible, but some are easier to play on some devices more than others! There are also games you can play if you’re in to more relaxing games, and exciting ones for if you’re a more intense gamer! It has games available for all ages, but as far as accessibility is concerned, I would say it depends on your level of disability.
You get a free month trial when you sign up to Apple Arcade, and after that it costs 4:99.
MacOS Catalina is the newest edition of iOS developed, and was released for Mac; iPhone; iPad; and other iOS devices, on 7th October 2019. An update like nothing we’ve had before, MacOS Catalina gives you more of everything you love about your device! The iTunes app on Mac has been renamed to Music _ like it’s been for a few years on iPhone and iPad _ and you now get the Apple TV app with new Apple TV+, and the Apple Podcasts app if you’re on Mac. Catalina also gives you an all new way of finding your missing devices with the Find My app, and you can extend your desktop with your iPad acting as a second display with Sidecar.
Apple Music has literally no changes from it’s previous developments, and you still have access to over 50 million songs, as long as you have an Apple Music Subscription. But with the new version, you can now see the lyrics to your favourite songs while they play, or switch to Mini Player to listen while multitasking.
With the new Apple TV app, you can buy and rent the latest movie and tv releases, and subscribe to Apple TV channels to watch popular shows on demand and add free, online and off. New Apple TV+ lets you get access to thousands of programmes, and you can watch and catch up from where you left off on Apple TV, iPhone, iPad and compatible smart TVs. With the updated app, you can watch your favourite content everywhere, and continue wherever you pick up!
If there’s one change worth being mentioned in this version of iOS, in my opinion, it is the desktop app of Apple Podcasts. The Podcasts app lets you continue listening to your favourite podcasts or find something new, or to find others you might like based on what you have already listened to. The library is where all your podcasts go, and with hundreds and thousands of shows to listen to, it is now easier than ever to get the correct results when browsing and searching.
All 3 services _ Apple TV, Apple Music and Apple Podcasts _ sync between all your devices, through the cloud, or you can sync between apps if you prefer using a cable.
Photos has been given an all new appearance _ with your photos now being organised by day, month and year views so it’s easy to relive your memories. Animations and transitions keep your spot in the timeline so it’s easy to swap across, and photo Previews are larger to help you distinguish shots. Photos’ intelligence helps find the best parts of photos to view, so you see the best of the unedited version.
The all-new gallery view displays your notes as visual thumbnails, making it easier to find the note you’re looking for. You can share notes or complete folders with others, and collaborate on notes together, with everyone being able to add what they want. This version of notes also introduces new checklist options, so you can reorder items in your list of items with drag and drop or keyboard shortcuts, and move ticked items to the bottom out of the way. If you’ve completed the checklist and want to revisit it, you can easily untick all the items, and start again.
Reminders, Safari and Mail have all been updated _ with Safari having a new homepage to show frequently viewed, favourites, and Siri suggestions _ Mail including an unsubscribe button on top of emails _ and Reminders allowing the same type of contribution as apps like Notes now have.
The App Store has been updated to work with Apple Arcade _ which has finally been released! It lets you download and play 100+ groundbreaking new games with a £4.99 subscription _ with no adds or additional purchases! Browse the latest games, personalised recommendations and exclusive editorial content in the Arcade tab on the App Store, and enjoy games across iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Mac and Apple TV.
System Preferences looks a lot different compared to how it looked like with Mac OS Mojave, and that’s partly due to so much being added. With Apple ID and Family Sharing being added to the top, and you can now change your appearance in General to Light, Dark or Auto _ the last one also letting you schedule how long the screen stays light for, and when it goes dark. You can also control how long your children spend on a phone with Screen Time, and there’s a few new screen saver pictures.
Also new to iOS Catalina is Voice Control _ which means you can get round your phone without having to tap it.
I wasn’t a big fan of OS Mojave, so I updated as soon as a notification popped through telling me to update. Everything that’s been added in Catalina feels like my mac has suddenly been fixed, and it’s just a lot handier.